Page 1

How-to: Run Your Diesel on Biofuel

Vol. 6 Issue 12

FOOD WATER SHELTER SECURITY COMMS HEALTH

TO SHOOT ORNOT OR NOT BE PREPARED TO MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE

ORT AND

SWEET!

We Review the Remington 870 Tac-14 SUBTERRANEAN

SUBTERFUGE

100s of Narco Tunnels Undermine the U.S. Border HOLIDAY

GEAR GUIDE Perfect Presents for Preppers

THE EVERYMAN’S

EDC

12 T Tools to Always Keep With You

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Blue Force Gear VCAS Sling $45.00

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• BCMGUNFIGHTER™ QD End Plate $16.95

B5 Systems SOPMOD Bravo Stock

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KMSM • BCMGUNFIGHTER™ KeyMod QD Sling Mount $17.95

9 Inch KMR-A9 . . . . . . . . $176.95 10 Inch KMR-A10 . . . . . . $179.95 13 Inch KMR-A13 . . . . . . $189.95 15 Inch KMR-A15 . . . . . . $199.95

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PWS DI KeyMod Rail Handguard Free float rail for AR15/M4 pattern rifles.

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PWS KeyMod Polymer Bipod Adapter $23.95

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KeyMod Modular Light Mount For 1913 mounted lights $39.95

Arisaka Inline KeyMod Scout Mount $34.00 Arisaka Ring KeyMod 1” Light Mount $44.00

Thorntail KeyMod Offset Adaptive Light Mounts Thorntail 1.030 Mount $70.00 Thorntail M3M6 1913 Mount $50.00

Arson Machine Company KeyMod Light Mounts Scout M600 Mount $48.00 1” Ring Mount $44.00

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BCM® KeyMod Picatinny Rail Sections Mil-Std 1913 rails, Nylon Rails available in Black, FDE, Foliage Green.

Nylon Rail, 3 Inch . . . . . . . . . . . . $8.95 Nylon Rail, 4 Inch . . . . . . . . . . . $11.95 Nylon Rail, 5.5 Inch . . . . . . . . . . $14.95 Aluminum Rail, 3 Inch, Black . . $19.95 Aluminum Rail, 4 Inch, Black . . $24.95 Aluminum Rail, 5.5 Inch, Black . $29.95

PWS KeyMod Picatinny Rail Polymer Rail, 5 Slot. . . . . . . . . . $11.95 Aluminum Rail, 5 Slot . . . . . . . . $28.95

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BCMGUNFIGHTER™ Enhanced Lower Parts Kit BCMGUNFIGHTER™ With BCM® PNT™ Trigger Assembly, BCM® Mod 3 Grip, BCM® Trigger Guard, and Mil-Spec hardware kit. BCMGUNFIGHTER™ ELPK, semi-auto $99.95

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Uses biomechanically efficient forward rake, small profile textured front and back for positive engagement. Impact resistant polymers, in Black, Flat Dark Earth, Foliage Green and Wolf Gray. KAG-KM, KeyMod Version . . . . . $18.95 KAG-1913, Picatinny Rail Version . $19.95

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Aimpoint Comp M4S Red dot sight, fully NVD compatible, with QRP2 Picatinny Rail Mount

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EOTech HOLOgraphic Weapon Sights

BCM® KeyMod Rail Panel Kits 5.5 Inch Rail Panels, in Black, Flat Dark Earth, Foliage Green, Wolf Gray - 5-Pack . $9.95

Model 512 $429.00 Model 552 $529.00

All pricing is subject to change without notice. Please see our website for current pricing.

Hartland, WI U.S.A. / Toll Free: 1-877-BRAVO CO (1-877-272-8626) / Fax: 262-367-0989 / BravoCompanyMFG.com


FEATURES 12 SUBTERRANEAN SUBTERFUGE

REVIEWS

By Joseph J. Kolb

Smith & Wesson’s new and improved .45 ACP M&P M2.0

Battling narco tunnels under the U.S./Mexico border

28 TO SHOOT OR NOT TO SHOOT? How will you handle that bump in the night? By Larry Schwartz

72 SMARTPHONE NAVIGATION WITHOUT THE WEB Use a smartphone GPS app to find your way. By Larry Schwartz

80 MY KINGDOM FOR A HORSE!

20 BIG-BORE REDUX By Garrett Lucas

38 SHORT AND SWEET

Remington walks the razor's edge with its new TAC-14 "firearm." By Garrett Lucas

98 HALF-LIFE KNIVES’ BLAST-PROOF BLADES

Bleeding-edge tech with tank-like build quality By Garrett Lucas

These adaptable equines could be the key to your survival. By Dana Benner

106 DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT YOUR EDC

The everyday carry toolkit that just might save your life By Jim Cobb

28 106

72

120 LIKE MONEY IN THE BANK?

Stockpiling surplus Soviet Bloc ammunition By Peter Suciu

HOW-TO 48 KEEP CLEAN AFTER THE CATASTROPHE

Germ warfare that keeps you healthy By Christopher Nyerges

88 VEGAN VEHICLES

Power your diesel with cooking oil. By Christopher Nyerges

114 PREPARING FOR THE INVISIBLE WINTER THREAT Prevent snow blindness with homemade eye pro. By Dana Benner AMERICAN SURVIVAL GUIDE (ISSN 2331-8937) is published 12 times a year—January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December—by Engaged Media, Inc., 17890 Sky Park Circle, Suite 250, Irvine, CA 92614. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to American Survival Guide c/o VSI, Inc. 905 Kent Street, Liberty, MO 64068. © 2017 by Engaged Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material from this issue in whole or in part is strictly prohibited. GST #855050365RT001 Canada Post: Publications Mail Agreement #40612608. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: PITNEY BOWES, INC., P.O. Box 25542 London, ON N6C 6B2, Canada.

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AMERICAN SURVIVAL GUIDE [DECEMBER 2017]


8

GEAR GUIDE

58

GIVE THE GIFT OF SURVIVAL!

114

A shopping list even Santa would be proud of

38

By Michael D’Angona

12

DEPARTMENTS

6

FIRST WORDS

8

NEW PRODUCTS

130

LAST WORDS

48

120

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Some articles in this issue might include stock images that are the property of Getty Images.

[ASGMAG.COM] AMERICAN SURVIVAL GUIDE

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VOL. 6 ISSUE 12 EDITORIAL Mike McCourt Editor Kelly Nomura Executive Managing Editor Amy Maclean Managing Editor

IS PREPPING MORE CRITICAL NOW THAN EVER BEFORE?

T

here is no escaping it: No matter where you get your fix on current events, virtually each day’s news feeds and broadcasts are jammed with stories about events that can have far-reaching effects, even on those of us who live off the beaten path. Mother Nature is flexing her formidable muscles: Wildfires are raging out West, hurricanes and tropical storms have wreaked havoc on the Gulf and East coasts. Who knows what "fun and games" winter will bring? Civil unrest and a general heightening of tensions and anxiety—some caused by organized groups that are increasingly aggressive and dangerous—among the general population are working their way to smaller urban areas. And, not to be forgotten, concerns about the reach and lethality of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal are at an all-time high, and not just in Guam, Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States. Many preppers plan for one or two high-risk scenarios they feel are the most likely to interrupt their way of life. But in these days of growing tension and instability, is that enough? Is the traditional three or four days’ worth of food, water and other key supplies really going to make a difference in any emergency that results from one of the scenarios I mentioned above? Ask the folks in the Houston area if a three-day supply of “bottled water and batteries” was enough to get them through the storms and flooding. Granted, this was a “1,000-year flood," but the impact from a 100-year flood would still take more than a few days to overcome. It's easy to imagine you would get the same response from Irma's victims in Florida. There is a long list of things that didn’t get resolved within three or four days in the areas hit by hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the wildfires raging in the West. Damaged or contaminated areas might not be safe to return to for some time

after emergency officials can assess the potential dangers to residents and the environment. And don’t leave out the various types of collateral damage, especially any chemical and biological toxins that were spread via rampaging floodwaters. If you live in an area where dangerous weather events are lesser concerns than they are for coastal, quake zone or wildfire area dwellers, or you’re safely removed from population centers that can be stricken by violent civil unrest, you still ought to take this opportunity to re-evaluate your survival preparations. Generally speaking, the farther you are from population centers and the potential threats to your way of life they can host, the less robust both the infrastructure and the capabilities to repair damage to the systems. If that’s the case, you’ll need to increase your level of self-sufficiency in all aspects. Instead of having a three- or four-day plan, as recommended by many disaster relief organizations, consider increasing your plan to keep yourself going for 15 or 30 days or even more. Of course, in the case of true SHTF situations, you’ll need to be ready to live on your own indefinitely. Knowing there are so many areas of concern, this issue of American Survival Guide covers a wide variety of topics that range from a look at Mexican border security and the importance of having a comprehensive EDC kit, making biofuel for your diesel bug-out vehicle to advice for buying Soviet Bloc ammo. Be sure to also check out our extended Gear Guide this month; its 12 pages of products could help you flesh out your wish list or find some goodies for others who need to add to their supplies. In addition, we’re sure you’ll also enjoy Garrett Lucas’s review of the Remington 870 TAC-14, especially if you’re looking for some friendly firepower you can depend on in confined spaces. Always hoping for the best, all of us at ASG wish you a happy and safe holiday season and a healthy 2018. —Mike McCourt

6

AMERICAN SURVIVAL GUIDE [DECEMBER 2017]

DESIGN David A. de la Torre Jr. Art Director CONTRIBUTORS Dana Benner, Jim Cobb, Michael D'Angona, Joseph J. Kolb, Garrett Lucas, Brian Morris, Christopher Nyerges, Frank Phillips, Larry Schwartz, Peter Suciu ADVERTISING Gabe Frimmel Ad Sales Director (714) 200-1930 gfrimmel@engagedmediainc.com Casey Cliff ord Senior Account Executive (714) 200-1982 Mark Pack Senior Account Executive (714) 200-1939 Charles Dorr Account Executive (714) 200-1931 Spencer Redmond Account Executive (972) 448-4649 John Bartulin Account Executive (866) 866-5146 ext. 2746 John Cabral Advertising Design Eric Gomez Advertising Traffic Coordinator Gennifer Merriday Advertising Traffic Coordinator MARKETING Elise Portale Content Marketing Manager Brooke Sanders Content Marketing Specialist Eric Surber Content Marketing Specialist Michael Chadwick Digital Marketing & Media Coordinator Andrew Dunbar Videographer OPERATIONS Robert Short IT Manager Parveen Kumar Newsstand and Circulation Analyst Shailesh Khandelwal Subscriptions Manager Alex Mendoza Administrative Assistant Victoria Van Vlear Intern Program Manager EDITORIAL, PRODUCTION & SALES OFFICE 17890 Sky Park Circle, Suite 250, Irvine, CA 92614 (714) 939-9991 • Fax: (800) 249-7761 www.asgmag.com www.facebook.com/americansurvivalguidemagazine www.facebook.com/eembybeckett AMERICAN SURVIVAL GUIDE (ISSN 2331-8937) is published in January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December by Engaged Media Inc., LLC, 17890 Sky Park Circle, Suite 250, Irvine, CA 92614. POSTMASTER: SEND ADDRESS CHANGES TO AMERICAN SURVIVAL GUIDE, C/O ENGAGED MEDIA INC, VSI, INC. 905 KENT STREET, LIBERTY, MO 64068. © 2017 by Engaged Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material from this issue in whole or in part is strictly prohibited. GST#855050365RT001. Canadian Post: Publications Mail Agreement Pitney Bowes, Inc., P.O. Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2, Canada CUSTOMER SERVICE Engaged Media, Inc. 17890 Sky Park Circle, Suite 250, Irvine, CA 92614 Subscriptions, address changes, renewals, missing or damaged copies: (800) 764-6278 (239) 653-0225 Foreign Inquiries subscriptions@engagedmediainc.com customerservice@engagedmediainc.com Back issues: www.engagedmediamags.com Books, merchandise, reprints: (800) 764-6278 • Foreign (239) 653-0225 Letters to the editor, new products or to contribute a story or photo: asgfeedback@engagedmediainc.com SUBSCRIPTION RATES $32.95/1 year, $52.95/2 years. Outside the United States, add $32.00 per year payable in U.S. funds. Single copy price is $8.99. Please allow 6 to 8 weeks for new subscriptions to begin.

ENGAGED MEDIA, INC. Mike Savino CEO Tom Conradi VP, Brand and Content Development Pinaki Bhattacharya Vertical Manager Bob Hulsy Director of Business Development Sabra Morris Director of Content Marketing Jason Mulroney Director of Content Philip Trinkle Newsstand Sales Director Malic Vann Digital Marketing Director This magazine is purchased by the buyer with the understanding that information presented is from various sources from which there can be no warranty or responsibility by Engaged Media Inc., as to the legality, completeness or technical accuracy. GST #855050365RT001 Canada Post: Publications Mail Agreement #40612608 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: PITNEY BOWES, INC., P.O. Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2, Canada


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A standard 5gal./20L water container that’s great for utility purposes. This container comes with a standard hideaway spigot with on/off tap feature and a vent tab, container is Bisphenol A-free for added safety.

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COMPILED BY FRANK PHILLIPS

1

LocTote Flak Sack

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Pieps DSP Sport Avalanche Beacon

Black Diamond Diamon Trail Back Trekki Trekking Pole

There are drawstring backpacks … and then there is the Flak Sack—the toughest and most secure drawstring pack ever. Created from heavy-duty, slash-resistant fabric, this bag will keep your items inside, and no one but you is taking them out! This amazing bag can be considered your portable safe: Just lock it to any secure object and be worry-free as you go about your business. The Flak Sack is perfect for adults, college students or anyone who wants to travel with, and protect, their valuables.

The Pieps DSP Sport Avalanche Beacon is as easy to use as it is powerful. With a 50-meter/164-foot circular range, three antennas for pinpoint search accuracy and a smart transmitter to aid in fast recovery, the DSP Sport is the go-to beacon for anyone venturing into the backcountry. The included harness-style carrying pouch provides comfortable, streamlined storage and fast removal for beacon practice and emergency response.

Features

Features

• Patent-pending, steel-reinforced locking strap • Heavy-duty, solid-brass lock • Water-resistant coating • RFID-blocking interior pocket • Secure sternum strap

• Direction and distance from initial detection • Circular range for extended, symmetrical search area • Continuous carrier mode for use with older, analog beacons • Harness-style carrying pouch included • Frequency: 457 kHz • Power supply: three alkaline AAA batteries; IEC-LR03; 1.5V • Battery life: 200-plus hours in “send” mode • Weight: 7.1 ounces • Dimensions: 4.5x2.9x1.1 inches

MSRP $149

URL www.LocTote.com

MSRP $319.95

2 Black Diamond HiLight Tent The Black Diamond HiLight can either be a spacious shelter for one person or a cozy two-person, assault-style tent. It uses a two-and-a-half-pole design for steep, water-shedding walls and a wide, high ceiling. The full side-opening door has a built-in mesh window and, coupled with another window on the opposite side, the HiLight offers excellent ventilation. The canopy is built with highly water-resistant and breathable NanoShield fabric.

Features • Sleeps: One or two people • Two interior mesh storage pockets • Proprietary NanoShield single-wall fabric • Seasons: Four • Weight: 3 pounds, 2 ounces • Dimensions: 81x50x42x40 inches • Area: 27 square feet • Packed size: 6x9 inches

MSRP Starting at $399.95

URL www.BlackDiamondEquipment.com

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URL www.Pieps.com

4 Rab Latok Alpine Gaiter Latok Alpine Gaiters are fully waterproof and breathable. They feature an eVent waterproof outer, Stretch Watergate fabric rear panel, Tough Robic nylon ankle area and a zipless hook-and-loop front closure. Designed to fit lower-volume mountain boots, Latok Alpine Gaiters also feature a rubberized, abrasion-resistant underboot strap and a flexible polymer strip on the rear to prevent movement when climbing.

Simple and economical, the Black Diamond Dia Trail Back Trekking three-section pole provides reliable re stability and easy adjustment for any on- or off-trail adventure. Dual FlickLocks provide total adjustability adjustab to change g with the terrain. The Vari-Width nylon webbing w bb g strap with woven lining provides increased comfort, c especially on longer treks.

Features • Ribbed rubber grip reduces vibration • Nonslip EVA foam grip extension • Includes a low-profile trekking basket bask t • Weight: 17 ounces • Usable lengths: 25–55 inches • Collapsed length: 25 inches

MSRP $79.95

URL www.BlackDiamondEquipment.com

6 Oakley Radar EV Path PRIZM Snow Sunglasses Oakley Radar EV Path PRIZM Snow Sunglasses are designed with sturdy and light materials for durability and comfort. They meet or exceed ANSI standards for impact resistance and optical clarity. PRIZM lens technology enhances the visual experience, while Unobtanium earsocks and nosepads increase grip, despite perspiration.

Features

• Weight: 9.38 ounces • Streamlined internal strap adjustment • Single-hand draw-cord top closure • Articulated, secure lace hook • Two sizes accommodate men’s sizes 8–13+

• Shield-style performance shades for snowboarding, skiing and other snow sports • Blocks 100 percent of all UVA, UVB and UVC light • Iridium lens coatings help regulate glare, reflection and light transmission • Interchangeable lenses allow you to customize and optimize your view • Nylon frame material is stress resistant, lightweight and durable

MSRP

• MSRP

Features

$80

$190

URL

URL

https://Rab.Equipment/us/

www.Oakley.com

AMERICAN SURVIVAL GUIDE [DECEMBER 2017]


4 2 5 1

3

6 [ASGMAG.COM] AMERICAN SURVIVAL GUIDE

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7

9

11

Scott Balaclava Facemask

Snow MOOver 55-Inch Snow Tool

Spikerking Knit Beanie

The Scott Balaclava is great for cold winter days. Designed to fit under any helmet, the balaclava’s fabric will keep you warm and help manage your perspiration. The elastic binding gives you the fit you need when moving about, and the reflective prints provide the extra visibility you need when training in the dark.

The BirdRock Home Snow MOOver and Ice Scraper make it easy to clear snow off your vehicle. Its paint- and glass-friendly, freeze-resistant foam head won’t damage your auto. Extend the foam head up to 55 inches to remove the hard-to-reach pockets of snow on your car, truck, SUV or van. Use the Ice Scraper’s extra-thick plastic jaws and flat ice scraper to clear windows.

To help keep your head warm—as well as the rest of you—on cold days and nights, keep your head cove covered d with the Spikerking Knit Beanie. The soft-knit yarns are great for winter wear because of their ability to kee keep you warm and allow excess heat to vent if you are activ active..

Features • Shell fabric: 100 percent polyester • Pleasant and soft fleece next to skin • Excellent fit • Stretch material moves with you • Machine washable for easy care

MSRP $19.99

URL www.Scott-Sports.com

Features • Use the jaws to break up ice • Ice Scraper tool is removable from Snow MOOver • Dimensions: 2x36–55x14 inches • Weight: 2 pounds

MSRP

Features • Hand-knitted feel • Criss-cross basket-weave knit keeps its shape shap • Suprafleece thermal band • One size

MSRP $13.99

URL www.Spikerking.com

$23.99

URL www.SnowMoover.com

8

Muck Boot Company Arctic Sport

MEC BackCountry Access Stealth 240 Carbon Probe

When it’s cold and wet, Muck Boot Company Arctic Sport boots provide dry comfort and warmth that let you stay out and get your work done. The stretch-fit topline binding snugs to your legs to keep warmth in and cold out, while the 5mm Neoprene bootie with four-way stretch nylon is 100 percent waterproof, lightweight and flexible.

Get the benefits of a full-length avalanche probe without excess bulk and weight in your pack—thanks to the carbon-fiber construction of the BackCountry Access Stealth 240. The Stealth Quick-Lock system inner tube nests inside the first probe section, making it smaller in your pack and quick to deploy. Simply pull the trigger, and the probe extends to almost 8 feet.

Features

10

10

• Rugged, MS-1 molded outsole is aggressive and durable for maximum protection and stability • 2mm thermal foam underlay added to the instep area for additional warmth • EVA-molded midsole with contoured footbed • Fleece lining • Sizes: 5–15 (whole sizes only)

Features

MSRP

MSRP

$169.99

$99

URL

URL

www.MuckBootCompany.com

www.MEC.ca

• Laser-etched depth markings in centimeters • Tip penetrates debris easily • Weight: 7.58 ounces • Diameter: 0.43 inch • Extended length: 94.48 inches • Cable material: Stainless steel

AMERICAN SURVIVAL GUIDE [DECEMBER 2017]

12 Black Diamond Guide Finger Gloves Their split-finger design gives Black Diamond’s Guide Finger Gloves extra warmth while maintainmaint ing the dexterity that folks in very cold climates climate need in order to get stuff done. The Gore-Tex inserts ensure total moisture protection, while the debr large gauntlet cuffs keep wind, snow and debris from sneaking in.

Features • 100 percent waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex insert • Removable Primaloft and boiled wool liners • Abrasion-resistant, woven nylon shell with fourway stretch • Goatskin palm and palm patch • Foam padding on knuckles for impact protection • Weight (pair): 12 ounces

MSRP $169.95

URL www.BlackDiamondEquipment.com


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SUBTERRANEAN SUBTERFUGE 12

‹ A police agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement stands guard in a drug tunnel found along the U.S.-Mexico border in 2006. This drug tunnel was 2,400 feet long, had lighting, ventilation and equipment to pump out ground water.

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THE RELENTLESS BATTLE AGAINST MEXICAN NARCO TUNNELS BY JOSEPH J. KOLB

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of President Donald Trump to extend the border wall, the issue has been raised regarding whether illegal immigrants will resort to burrowing their way north in greater numbers to cross the border. According to Scott Stewart, vice president of Tactical Analysis for Stratfor, a geopolitical intelligence firm based in Austin, Texas, human traffickers have used sewer tunnels in places such as San Diego, California, and Nogales, Arizona, to smuggle people across the border for decades. But it makes very little sense to run a stream of people through a tunnel who could be caught and then alert the authorities of its existence. In addition, on a volume basis, smuggling people is simply far less profitable than smuggling narcotics. Stewart added, “In fact, we have seen cases in which cartels have brought laborers in to dig tunnels and then killed them after they were done to keep the tunnel secret. The people delivering drugs to the Mexican side of the tunnel and picking them up from the U.S. side are highly trusted employees and very few in numbers to ensure solid operational security.”

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he dramatic July 2015 escape by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán from a “high-security” Mexican prison highlighted the resourcefulness and effectiveness with which Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) utilize tunnels. Guzmán’s route was through a sophisticated, mile-long passageway dug directly beneath the shower in his solitary cell. But tunnels range from the highly sophisticated to the dangerously rudimentary, albeit effective, variety that result from what U.S. Border Patrol agents call “gophering.” The phenomenon of Mexican DTOs utilizing tunnels is nothing new. Dating back to Prohibition, bootleggers would smuggle liquor through tunnels and a network of subterranean drainage systems that ran between the United States and Mexico. Fast-forward some 70 years, and that approach transferred to narcotics. It was El Chapo’s exploit, to the great embarrassment of Mexican officials, that demonstrated just how effective tunneling is and the need for more-proactive measures by U.S. authorities to locate and neutralize them. Now, with the current political rhetoric

‹ This building concealed the destination of an elaborate DTO tunnel.

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A NEW GENERATION OF TUNNELS Ironically, the recent use of smuggling tunnels can be attributed to El Chapo and his Sinaloa drug-trafficking organization. After establishing a lucrative trafficking agreement with Colombian cocaine distributors, El Chapo needed to supplement his air smuggling operation, so he went subterranean—in the same vein as smugglers of yore. In 1989, the first of the new generation of narco tunnels was discovered running between Agua Prieta, Mexico, and Douglas, Arizona. As more tunnels were discovered, officials were disturbingly impressed with their complexity and sophistication. After all, they should have been, because they were designed by well-educated engineers Felipe de Jesús Corona Ubera, who could be considered the “father” of the narco tunnel, and José Sánchez-Villalobos. Over the next 25 years, tunnels were popping up along the border.

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› Above: A drug tunnel found in Otay Mesa, California. This tunnel led from a building in the United States to another in Tijuana. It was the most sophisticated tunnel ever found in California.

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IT WAS EL CHAPO’S EXPLOIT, TO THE GREAT EMBARRASSMENT OF MEXICAN OFFICIALS, THAT DEMONSTRATED JUST HOW EFFECTIVE TUNNELING IS AND THE NEED FOR MORE-PROACTIVE MEASURES BY U.S. AUTHORITIES TO LOCATE AND NEUTRALIZE THEM. PREVALENCE There are an estimated 180 cross-border tunnels and intricate drainage systems between Mexico and California and Arizona that have overly stressed U.S. Border Patrol resources. Strikingly, these are just the ones that have been identified. As we will see, the discovery of tunnels is less scientific and has more to do with diligent investigative strategies—and luck. With that in mind, the “180” number could be just scratching the proverbial surface. DTOs have found that the ability to smuggle millions of tons of narcotics into the United States is a viable option that can be effectively executed through tunnels. When border security was stepped up in the 1990s and post-9/11, both in terms of manpower and technology, surface options became riskier. Even so, they are still used effectively, such as for bulk runs concealed in vehicles crossing ports of entry every day.


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‹ Above: This ladder leads down to the famous tunnel “El Chapo” used in his 2015 escape from a Mexican prison.

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‹ Below: A Homeland Security special agent (who chose to remain unidentified) prepares to go into a drug tunnel found by agents at a warehouse near the U.S.-Mexico border. Authorities confiscated more than 30 tons of marijuana in the tunnel. It was one of the largest pot seizures in United States history.

While tunnels have been discovered along the border, mostly in California and Arizona, arguably the most prevalent locations in recent years have been in and around Calexico and Otay Mesa, California. This is outside San Diego and Tijuana— more specifically, in the Tijuana airport area—where numerous tunnels have been located. In March and April 2016 alone, three tunnels were discovered there. A variety of factors makes this region especially conducive to tunneling. The first is that the area is replete with industrial parks and strip malls, where entrance and egress points can be easily concealed, as well as the cover from traffic to remove the excavated dirt. Additionally, the soil in this specific area is soft sandstone and volcanic ash with minimal rock formations. Here are some of the tunnels discovered in the Otay Mesa area: • March 2011: 600-yard tunnel • November 2011: 400-yard tunnel with 17 tons of marijuana discovered • April 2014: 400-yard tunnel • October 2015: 800-yard tunnel containing $6 million of narcotics • April 2016: 874-yard tunnel containing $22 million of cocaine and tons of marijuana

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THERE ARE AN ESTIMATED 180 CROSSBORDER TUNNELS AND INTRICATE DRAINAGE SYSTEMS BETWEEN MEXICO AND CALIFORNIA AND ARIZONA THAT HAVE OVERLY STRESSED U.S. BORDER PATROL RESOURCES. STRIKINGLY, THESE ARE JUST THE ONES THAT HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED.

CONSTRUCTION The construction process of tunnels can range from the impulsive to the well-planned construction project designed by professional architects. As with commercial real estate projects, time is money in the narco trade. The quicker and more efficient a tunnel is, the faster the billions of dollars of sales of narcotics can flow south from the insatiable American market. Most projects can run between three to nine months, but quicker “gopher holes” can take just days. The tunnels are classified by officials as “rudimentary,” “interconnecting” and “sophisticated.” • A rudimentary tunnel is essentially an unsupported burrow, built mostly for the suspect(s) to crawl through. It extends only some 20 feet or just enough for a quick penetration below the border fence. • Interconnecting tunnels involve the combined penetration of a manmade and an existing municipality structure, such as a storm drain. • Sophisticated tunnels are built to last and can contain lighting, ventilation, rail tracks for mechanized or hand-pushed vehicles, and even elevators. The cost of a tunnel can run more than $3 million. Considering the tonnage of narcotics seized over the years by officials on both sides of the border, this may seem a worthwhile expense. Most tunnel workers receive little pay for their dangerous toils. Others might not have a choice and work as slave laborers. Worst of all, it is not unusual for workers to pay with their lives in order to maintain the secrecy of the tunnel after it is completed. A device that revolutionized tunnel construction is the “total station,” which is used to plot locations and shoot measurements as the workers are tunneling to make sure they’re going in the proper direction. Digging equipment can range from picks and

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› Below: The modified motorbike used by “El Chapo” in his escape from a Mexican prison through an almost mile-long tunnel in 2105

What officials in Nogales, Arizona, have observed is the effective use of connecting tunnels to existing drainage systems. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), “Nogales is the most active illegal tunneling area in the U.S. Through May 2014, 102 of them have been discovered there. And the tunneling problem is a growing one, with tunnel discoveries increasing nationwide in recent years.”

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shovels to jackhammers to directional horizontal drills used in mining. Finished projects can include ventilation and drainage systems, hydraulic doors, lighting, rail tracks, ceiling and wall supports, planked walls and floors—and even elevators.

› An unidentified Homeland Security Special Agent crawls through a drug tunnel found in November 2010. More than 30 tons of marijuana were seized at the time.

› More than 180 narco tunnels have been detected along the U.S.-Mexico border. They range in sophistication from simple, short “gopher holes” to elaborate and expensive tunnels designed by engineers.

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Most tunnels are discovered by accident or as part of a collateral investigation as a result of which traffickers inadvertently lead investigators to stash houses where the drugs “surface” before being distributed. To identify and suppress these tunnels, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has a tunnel task force team in the San Diego Sector and another in Nogales. These highly trained specialists are not unlike the “tunnel rats” of Vietnam— American soldiers who slithered into the vast network of tunnels that were used by the Viet Cong to transport troops and supplies and served other purposes, as well. Being a tunnel agent is not for the faint of heart. They crawl into tight, dark, dank spaces not knowing what might be waiting for them just feet away. As they make their way, they look for signs of human presence, such as footprints, equipment and food. The agents map its course and gather structural intelligence, because the construction of a tunnel can have a distinct signature. Most importantly—and occasionally frustrating—U.S. agents do not cross the border; they rely heavily on their Mexican counterparts, which results in mixed results. Lance LeNoir, a member of the San Diego Sector tunnel team, says his team patrols the miles of storm drains, which lead them to connecting tunnels along the border. “They are always digging tunnels somewhere,” LeNoir said of smugglers. He admits that there are limits to early detection of these tunnels. The majority are discovered during patrols by Border Patrol tunnel specialists or by accident during surface narcotics surveillance operations. Discovery is rarely achieved scientifically— despite the availability of ground-penetrating radar and microgravity devices that detect changes in the Earth’s gravitational field because of the tunnels. For a variety of reasons, both have so far proved inconsistent and cost prohibitive. According to the CBP, tunnel-detection technology does offer a promising, longer-term strategy for finding and destroying cross-border tunnels. While it is inherently challenging to detect tunnels of varying diameters, depths and types of ground, technologies are deployed that

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INTERVENTION

are best suited to the operational environment. If the conditions are conducive, agents will deploy a robot with a camera to conduct a preliminary examination of the tunnel or drain pipe before sending an agent in. It is in the early-detection stage that LeNoir said there could be room for improvement. He explained that technology such as ground-penetrating radar does exist. However, not only is it ineffective in many areas along the border, it is just not available to agents on a large enough scale to make any appreciable difference. But like a criminal version of “whack-a-mole,” tunnels continue to appear, with the criminal engineers exploiting weaknesses in detection technology. According to LeNoir, tunnel identification comes down to three fundamental strategies: human intelligence, outreach by educating the community and technology. “Unfortunately, we are severely lacking in technology,” he pointed out. “It’s difficult trying to find something in a specific geologic region that is in a confined space that can be 4 feet in diameter and 90 feet underground.” Ground-penetrating radar is fraught with limitations, especially in high-traffic areas. Variations in rock formations, mismatched soil and excavation can lead to inaccurate

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› A concrete patch covers what was once the mouth of a tunnel near the Morley Gate Border Station in Nogales, Arizona. Border officials have found nearly 200 more tunnels along the 1,954-mile border with Mexico, mostly in Arizona and California.

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detection. All these problems exceed the current budgetary capabilities of DHS. “We’re aggressively pursuing better technology and interdiction strategies, but it also has to come down to political will,” LeNoir explained. In the absence of foolproof technology, CBP employs a strategies intervention plan that includes the following: Discovery: Members of the U.S. Border Patrol tunnel teams investigate and examine the way tunnels are constructed and whether they cross the international border. Robots assist with advance entry and clearing of debris to ensure the safety of team members. Change Detection: Should makeshift tunnel diggers successfully crack into existing infrastructure, they would have unfettered access to the border, as well as greater Nogales. The Border Patrol tunnel team explores the labyrinthine underground infrastructure of Nogales for signs of tampering, chiseling, cracks or other tool marks. Investigations: Once the tunnel or identified changes to existing subterranean infrastructure is discovered, Homeland Security Investigations agents will investigate to find those responsible. Sealing the Breach: When a tunnel is discovered, the passage must be thoroughly blocked to prevent trafficking. The type of remediation and materials used depend on the tunnel type and extent of the breach. Community Partnerships: The Tunnel Task Force engages with members of the community to help report suspected tunnels or possible tunnel construction sounds. Once a tunnel is discovered, it is promptly

NARCO TUNNELS HAVE BEEN PREVALENT SINCE THE LATE 1980S AND AREN’T GOING AWAY ANYTIME SOON.

› Below: Often, narco tunnels interconnect with existing public infrastructure to reduce the work needed to reach their desired locations.

sealed (also referred to as “remediation”). It will be filled with concrete, usually on both ends, after a thorough investigation and the removal of narcotics is completed. Where drainage systems are involved, heavy-duty grates are placed in potentially vulnerable spots to inhibit smuggling … with mixed results.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT As part of the community partnership element of the operation plan, DHS relies on the eyes and ears of the local population to help mitigate narcotics trafficking with these tunnels. Community members are advised to follow these parameters: • First and foremost, if you detect or suspect a narco tunnel, do not enter it! While there haven’t been any specific or reported instances, the presence of booby traps, guards or workers is not out of the realm of possibility. • Observe and report unusual human and vehicle traffic around buildings that typically shouldn’t have any. • Report any unusual noises coming from the ground, buildings or even residential homes in some areas. • Report large quantities of dirt and debris being removed from structures. • Report people leaving structures with heavily soiled clothes. • Take note of “word on the street”: While DTOs attempt to keep a tight ship through the penalty of a slow and horrible death, loose lips might let the secret out. Don’t converse about the topic; and calmly and immediately disengage from the individual. • If any of these are observed, immediately call your local police or Border Patrol station.

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FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE

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Narco tunnels have been prevalent since the late 1980s and aren’t going away anytime soon. Law enforcement is fighting a highly motivated and well-funded opponent who has no regard for the community, other than as a customer base. “If you see something, say something” should be the first line of defense—not only in homeland security, but in your personal safety, as well. ASG


BIG-BORE REDUX SMITH & WESSON’S NEW AND IMPROVED .45 ACP M&P 2.0 BY GARRETT LUCAS

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e are going through a phase right now that I will call “80s Redux.” There has been a glut of 9mm pistols hitting the market during the past couple of years similar to the age of wonder-nines. Or, there is a lack of attention paid to the bigger-bore pistols. It’s one or the other. One reason is that the FBI has decided to switch back to 9mm pistols after having issued a report that discusses the controllability and ease of follow-up shots with 9mm pistols versus larger-bore offerings. That report also brings into focus the recent advances in bullet technology that make the 9mm round much more effective than in the past. It can be argued that other loads have been the beneficiaries of those same advances. So, all things being equal, it would seem that the .45 ACP round is still more effective than 9mm loads. Whether you want to call it “stopping power,” “knock-down power” or “terminal effectiveness,” the .45 ACP is still a more

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decisive alternative to 9mm. There are those who say there’s no such thing as knock-down power or stopping power. Whatever. You can call it what you want; at the very least, there’s a bigger hole in the target, and that’s got to count for something. Smith & Wesson hasn’t ignored this fact with its recent introduction of the M&P 2.0 pistol in .45 ACP. True, it doesn’t have the capacity of the company’s similarly sized 9mm brethren, but many folks have done just fine with 7- and 8-shot .45 ACP pistols for nearly a century. And the magazine capacity is actually bumped 2 to 3 rounds with the M&P 2.0 .45 ACP pistol. As for control, we’ll address that a little later on.

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THE BIG-BORE M&P 2.0

comfort goes. Like a good gymnast, Smith sticks the landing in the hand of the user, and it feels incredibly secure during fire. Other improvements include four interchangeable back straps with the addition of a Medium-Large module to improve the comfort level for all shooters. The M&P 2.0 in .45 ACP came with the medium back strap affixed and, although it seemed to work pretty well, I liked the feel of the small back strap even better. It made the grip feel closer to that of a 1911 … well, as close as it can possibly be. The .45 ACP version of the M&P 2.0 will not be mistaken for a small pistol. It has an overall length of 7.9 inches and a barrel length of 4.6 inches, providing a nice sight radius for more-precise shots. The pistol weighs in at 27 ounces, which isn’t too bad for a .45 ACP model. The pistol’s capacity is 10+1 rounds. It comes with a stainless steel slide that carries an Armornite finish. Speaking of the slide: The M&P .45 ACP 2.0 provides a high gripto-bore axis to assist with controlling the pistol during fire. With a natural-feeling, 18-degree grip angle, the pistol truly feels like an excellent weapon in the hand. The .45 version of the M&P can be had with a thumb safety, although the one I received for review did not have that feature. It’s six of one and half a dozen of the other as to whether it’s a good feature to have. Many people like the additional safety, but many don’t want that extra step in their carry and drawing process. Of course, you can get one with the safety and just not use it. (Maybe you’ll change your mind down the road.) Currently, the .45 ACP version comes in black or flat dark earth. Additionally, the pistol does come with a Picatinny rail for mounting accessories such as lights, lasers and the occasional mini bayonet. All in all, it’s a pretty sweet package that is ready to rock and roll right out of the box.

The 2.0 line of Smith & Wesson’s M&P polymer-framed pistols offers a suite of enhancements over its original M&P pistols. Listening to customer feedback has led Smith & Wesson to producing a new line of pistols that significantly improves the handling and the function of its popular striker-fired pistols. The first change worth mentioning is the extended steel-framed rails. Lengthening the steel rails adds more stiffness to the pistol, negating some of the flex often encountered with polymer pistols. Also, Smith & Wesson lays claim to an improved trigger that has a crisper pull (something I would try later). The original M&P line of pistols did not provide a secure grip for the user. Smith & Wesson recognized this shortcoming and improved the texturing with a moreaggressive pattern that does the job quite nicely. In fact, although you can feel the aggressive texturing, Smith nailed it, as

‹ The new M&P 2.0 .45 ACP offers several enhancements over the original line.

PLAYING SOME FAVORITE HITS Growing up, when I listened to music, I preferred listening to 45s (45 rpm records, that is). I have pretty much the same preference when it comes to shooting. Despite many claims about excessive recoil from a .45 ACP pistol, the M&P 2.0 model was a surprisingly soft shooter when I got it out to the range. Whether it was the high gripto-bore axis or the fabulous texturing, I felt a degree of control that seemed to exceed other .45 pistols I’ve fired. I ran a couple of different drills with the .45 M&P 2.0, including drawing and shooting at a target from a seated position. Everything about the pistol came together to make shooting it a rewarding experience. It was easily controlled, and shots went on target quickly with the three-dot contrast sights. That’s not to imply that everything was

THE 2.0 LINE OF SMITH & WESSON’S M&P POLYMER-FRAMED PISTOLS OFFERS A SUITE OF ENHANCEMENTS OVER ITS ORIGINAL M&P PISTOLS. 22

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‹ The M&P .45 ACP 2.0 sports an ambidextrous slide catch/release, along with a reversible magazine release.

IT’S REFRESHING FOR A COMPANY TO LISTEN TO USER FEEDBACK AND QUICKLY DO A SWEEPING UPDATE TO ITS LINE BASED ON USER NEEDS …

SMITH & WESSON M&P 2.0 .45 ACP SPECS

‹ One change made to the M&P 2.0 line is the extension of the steel chassis to make the pistol stiffer in order to prevent excessive torque and flex.

‹ The texturing on the new M&P line is near perfection, providing a very positive grip for the user.

CALIBER:

.45 ACP

BARREL:

4.6 INCHES

OVERALL LENGTH:

7.9 INCHES

WEIGHT:

27.00 OUNCES (EMPTY MAG)

WIDTH:

1.31 INCHES

HEIGHT:

5.4 INCHES

GRIPS:

POLYMER

SIGHTS:

THREE DOT, LOW PROFILE

ACTION:

SEMIAUTOMATIC, STRIKER-FIRED

FINISH:

ARMORNITE

CAPACITY:

10+1 ROUNDS

MSRP:

$599

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… THE M&P 2.0 MODEL WAS A SURPRISINGLY SOFT SHOOTER WHEN I GOT IT OUT TO THE RANGE.

‹ For a .45 ACP loaded with 10+1 rounds, the M&P 2.0 has a slim profile, making it comfortable to carry and shoot.

PERFORMANCE VELOCITY (FPS)

ACCURACY (INCHES) AVERAGE BEST

SIG SAUER 230-GRAIN ELITE V-CROWN

735

2.78

2.19

WINCHESTER 230-GRAIN DEFEND

839

2.60

1.94

WINCHESTER 230-GRAIN PDX1

922

4.17

3.50

SPEER 230-GRAIN GOLD DOT

846

2.59

1.75

Notes: Bullet weight was measured in grains. Velocity was measured in feet per second (fps) 15 feet from the muzzle by a Competition Electronics ProChrono Digital Chronograph. Accuracy was measured in inches for three five-shot groups at 25 yards.

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‹ The large-bore M&P can definitely make a persuasive argument.

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RELIABILITY WAS EXCELLENT WITH A VARIETY OF AMMUNITION …

‹ Above: The front end of the M&P 2.0 wears low-profile cocking serrations and a Picatinny rail for the addition of accessories.

› Right: The .45 ACP M&P 2.0 comes with low-profile, three-dot sights.

S O U R C E Smith & Wesson (800) 331-0852 www.Smith-Wesson.com

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honey and roses. While Smith & Wesson claims to have improved the trigger pull, I wasn’t feeling it. Using my Lyman digital scale, the average trigger break was right at 5.18 pounds. In theory, that’s a good pull, but as I said, I wasn’t feeling it. There was enough pre-travel that I felt as if I needed to pack my bags, and there’s just enough grittiness to be noticed. Having shot M&Ps prior to the new line, I would say there is a slight improvement in the trigger pull. After some time messing around with the pistol, you get used to it, but I think there’s more room for improvement in that area. Don’t get me wrong: Overall, the package is very strong, but just like any other handgun, it has its quirks. Reliability was excellent with a variety of ammunition that ranged from Winchester’s PDX1 to SIG Sauer’s 230-grain Elite V-Crown loads. I also used Winchester’s Defend ammunition, along with Federal Premium’s 230-grain FMJs and SIG’s 230-grain Elite ball ammunition. Every single load plugged along without a single hiccup of any kind with the M&P .45 ACP model. For the accuracy trials, an assortment of four loads was employed: the included Speer’s 230-grain Gold Dot, Winchester’s 230-grain Defend and PDX1 loads, and SIG Sauer’s 230-grain Elite V-Crown offering.

The accuracy results were a little mixed, depending on the load; but, overall, the M&P .45 ACP turned in impressive results for shooting at 25 yards. The M&P 2.0 seemed to like the Speer loads the best, turning in the best group of 1.75 inches and the best average group of 2.58 inches. However, it’s worth noting that Winchester’s 230-grain Defend ammunition came within two-hundredths of an inch, with the average grouping of 2.60 inches. (That deviation could be from the user as much as anything else.)

THE 2.0 DIFFERENCE Smith & Wesson took the shooting world by storm with the introduction of its M&P line of pistols. It decided to make a similar splash by updating its popular pistols to further enhance their handling, stiffness and overall shooting experience. Did Smith & Wesson succeed enough for the masses to upgrade from the 1.0 series? That’s up to the individual, but I see enough differences—in the grip area, alone—that would make me decide to switch. However, as a first-time purchase, there’s no question of the quality and value Smith & Wesson brings to the table with the M&P 2.0 in .45 ACP. It’s refreshing for a company to listen to user feedback and quickly do a sweeping update to its line based on user needs, rather than dole out meaningless “improvements” over the course of 30 years. The 2.0 refresh is certainly worth a long, hard look if one is looking for a toptier pistol for carry or home defense. Long live the 2.0! ASG


TO SHOOT OR NOT TO SHOOT HOW WILL YOU HANDLE THAT BUMP IN THE NIGHT? BY LARRY SCHWARTZ

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f you watch enough gun-related television shows, study enough online firearms training videos or attend enough training courses, you will notice a recurring theme. Many, if not most, of them involve shooting the bad guy as the goal of the drill. While this might be the appropriate endgame in situations where your or someone else’s life is in peril, it isn’t always the case. As a result, we all need to ask ourselves if the scenarios we train for are the right ones. In many cases, and for a number or reasons, I think that they are not.

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‹ Left: Clearing rooms is something best done in pairs or as a team. There is good reasoning and years of experience behind why the military and law enforcement do it this way instead of doing it solo. (Photo: WikiMedia.org)

‹ Bottom: None of us has a “double-O license to kill,” so don’t step into the shoes of law enforcement and shoot at a bad guy— unless someone’s life is in immediate danger.

For a number of reasons, we find ourselves learning how to act in scenarios that involve shooting the bad guy. We all want to be able to protect our families and our property, so we don’t want the bad guy to take it—or to get away, for that matter. We also want to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. For these reasons, a large percentage of online videos and in-person training focuses on the “shoot-the-bad-guy” endgame. It is also a simple and straightforward scenario to teach and train, so instructors like it. Unfortunately, this endgame will often be overkill (pardon the pun) for real-world situations in which we might need a firearm to defend ourselves and our property. We have grown up watching television and movie bad guys being taken out by law enforcement, military or hired professionals—the good guys, who are usually society’s protectors. Many of the events we watched were in times and environments in which the rule of law wasn’t in effect as much as it is today, and the good guy was forced to take action that involved deadly force.

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WHY WE TRAIN THE WAY WE DO


YOUR LEGAL MILEAGE MAY VARY

A GREAT BOOK AND VALUABLE RESOURCE

The laws and regulations that pertain to the decisions you make and the actions you take are different across the country. Not only are they different between federal and state levels, they can also vary through every other jurisdiction—county, city, and even smaller communities and associations. Some have “stand-your-ground” laws in place, as a result of which you don’t have to retreat from a threat. Some have “castle doctrines” in effect so that you can protect yourself and your property when the bad guy is inside your home (“castle”). Some allow trained individuals to step in during a situation in public when lives are at stake. However, some don’t have any of these in place, and you run the risk of jail time and financial ruin if you do what you think is right and something goes wrong. (Remember the axiom, “Every bullet has a lawyer attached to it.”) Keep in mind that every jurisdiction has its own variation on each scenario, so you need to know the rules of the road where you live or travel. We also need to remember we are not the real-life embodiments of John Wayne, Clint Eastwood or Charles Bronson characters. Most of us are not Special Operations troops with hundreds of hours of training under our belts that are reinforced with countless of hours of drills.

Utah attorney Mitch Vilos has put together a great legal reference. Everyone who considers using a gun defensively should read his book, Self Defense Law of All 50 States (now in its second edition), which includes: • The basic terms and concepts you need to know about self-defense law; • True stories of people who thought they were in the right and are now in prison; • The legal risks you face when you use a firearm; • Some alternatives to firearms;

MANY SITUATIONS MIGHT NOT REQUIRE YOU TO SHOOT OR EVEN TOUCH YOUR WEAPON.

• The laws in each of the 50 states regarding self-defense and firearm use; • Additional resources for you to investigate.

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‹ Left: Situational awareness and being able to react are keys we all need to keep in mind. This woman might be aware of her surroundings, but with both hands full, she is not able to respond in any way to a threat or attack.

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› Opposite: Your best defense against home invaders: a good home security system to keep the bad guys outside—so you don’t have to deal with them inside

› Opposite, far right: A home security system with good locks, secure windows and motionsensitive cameras is a great way to avoid having to resort to guns.

BUT HE ATTACKED ME! The first part of any NRA magazine I normally turn to is the section that contains news clippings about people who used their firearms to protect themselves or others during burglaries, home invasions, muggings or robberies. These all end with the person who used their 2A rights not being charged. These are all good stories, heartwarming in some ways, but they are not the whole story. A deeper look into the little bits of news in your local paper will also show you cases in which someone who thought

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they were doing the right thing—who thought they were within their rights—found themselves in prison for assault or murder. Others have found themselves coming out on top legally, but only after spending months in the legal system and thousands of dollars. The axiom, “Discretion is the better part of valor,” takes on a new meaning in these situations. Know the laws in your jurisdiction. Know what to do and say in the immediate aftermath of a shooting. And keep your cool.


WHEN TO ACT Many situations might not require you to shoot or even touch your weapon. If you are carrying concealed and find yourself involved in a convenience store robbery, you don’t have to engage the robber. If he hasn’t shot or threatened to shoot someone, it might be better to hang tight and minimize the chances of someone getting hit unnecessarily—or you missing your target. If the robber does start shooting or acts as if he is about to shoot someone, you have a different decision to make: Can you safely make the shot without adrenaline messing with your fine motor control, and can you really take a life?

WE ALSO NEED TO REMEMBER WE ARE NOT THE REAL-LIFE EMBODIMENTS OF JOHN WAYNE, CLINT EASTWOOD OR CHARLES BRONSON CHARACTERS. If you hear the proverbial “bump in the night,” your natural inclination might be to take your bedside gun out of its safe and find out what made the noise. But that isn’t your wisest choice. There is a good reason that police and military don’t practice clearing rooms and buildings with just one person: It isn’t practical, and it isn’t safe. One set of eyes can only look around one corner at a time, and there is a 50/50 chance the bad guy is around the corner you can’t look at. You also can’t simultaneously watch where you have been and where you are going. According to nationally known instructors with real-world experience in home invasions and one-on-one situations, your wisest choice is to take steps to secure your home and its perimeter so the bad guys can’t get in or don’t want to risk trying to get in. Choosing a system that allows you to use your smartphone as a monitor makes it easy for you to see what is going on inside your home from wherever you are. If your home is invaded, you should stay in a safe location where you have some cover. Wait to see if that noise is someone and if they come to your room. If it is a robbery, they will likely go to the bedroom—the room in which most people store their valuables.

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HOW TO PRACTICE AND TRAIN

› Many home security systems allow you to access the cameras from your smartphone. So, when you hear that “bump in the night,” check your phone instead of leaving your bedroom or calling 911. You will see if it is an intruder— and, more importantly, where they are.

© GETTY IMAGES

By now, you know that drills that prepare you to take down a bad guy, although they are good skills to have, are not the only drills you should be practicing and not the only type of training you should be looking for. Others include:

… WE ALL NEED TO ASK OURSELVES IF THE SCENARIOS WE TRAIN FOR ARE THE RIGHT ONES.

• How to move away from your attacker and make yourself a more-difficult target to hit; • Basic martial arts that are simple, easy to remember (even when you don’t practice them), and don’t require strength or stature to perform successfully; • Family drills on what to do during a break-in; • Basic first aid training and how to integrate these skills into your other drills.

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› Good training—on a variety of scenarios, from instructors with real-world experience—is your best investment in yourself for making good choices in the future. (Photo: Media. Defense.gov)

AMERICAN SURVIVAL GUIDE [DECEMBER 2017]


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‹ Using video and simulated guns or ammunition are excellent ways to evaluate different options and to learn how to think your way through a dangerous situation. (Photo: Media.Defense.gov)

KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS There is so much information you’ll need to process between the moment you realize something is happening and when your hand reaches for your gun. Many police officers can go for years without having to make that decision; others might face it on a monthly basis. And even then, they might not make the best choice. So, keep in mind the kinds of things that affect your decision—and be careful as you make it. For example: • Clearing rooms is not something that can be done effectively by just one person. • You might not always be able to get to your gun before you need to defend yourself or someone around you. • People around you or the bad guy could preclude you from safely taking a shot. • It might not be clear who the bad guy is or how many there are. • Is there someone else in the room who is armed and who might see you as a bad guy? Remember that they are going through the same stressful thought process and could be less prepared for it than you are. Some options might seem good at first glance, but when you give it more thought, you realize it isn’t practical or is just dangerous. For example, you might want to hold the bad guy prisoner until the police arrive. Did you already call the police—or do you need to take your attention off of him to do that? What if he doesn’t cooperate, put down his weapon and lie on the floor? Do you really want to get close to him in order to put restraints (e.g., handcuffs or zip ties) on him?

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© GETTY IMAGES

If you are the type that likes to plan and think things through before they happen, consider the scenarios you might face and the various choices you have, in terms of the actions you might take: Does the scenario have to end in shots fired? Would it be best to stay hidden and protect the others with you? Is it practical to tell the bad guy to drop his gun and get on the ground? How are your actions going to be perceived by those around you? Will they think you protected them or that you ambushed the teenager and shot him without warning? Even if you are not the analytical type, you should see by now that you might want to consider and seek out different kinds of training that give you more options than shooting. You might not have the skills and mindset to be an action hero, but you can do some self-evaluation and determine what courses of action work best for you and those around you. The bottom line: If you want to be effective and come out on the good side of a bad situation, you need to equip yourself ahead of time and have more than one tool in your tool bag so you have options if/when the time comes.

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› Above: You should have your options planned and practiced well before you encounter a perceived or real threat.

› Something you need to know about yourself, or prepare yourself for, is whether you can actually take another person’s life in a life-or-death situation. If you don’t think you can, you either need to remove shooting from your options or start preparing yourself mentally for that scenario to come out on top.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED OF YOU When it comes to a potential shooting situation, there are a number of things required of you: • Knowledge of the laws where you are so you don’t do anything that can put you in legal jeopardy; • The training to do the things you might have to do in the scenarios you expect to be in; • The practice and experience with the skills you have learned; • The situational awareness to see what is happening as it unfolds; • The emotional and mental preparedness to do what you decide to do, whether it is calling the police, spraying the bad guy with pepper spray ... or pulling the trigger and ending his life. ASG

© GETTY IMAGES

WE NEED TO CHANGE OUR APPROACH


SHORT AN 38

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REMINGTON WALKS THE RAZOR’S EDGE WITH ITS NEW TAC-14 “FIREARM.” BY GARRETT LUCAS

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R

ecently, I had the chance to feel like Ash Williams from the movie, Army of Darkness. You know who I’m talking about: “Name’s Ash. Housewares. Shop Smart. Shop S-Mart.” And, in a confrontation with some troglodytes, he was once heard saying, “All right, you primitive screwheads, listen up! This ... is my boom stick!” Now, as serious as things get with selecting the right firearm for home or personal defense, being able to have some fun with the process, as well as the final choice, makes things more enjoyable overall. Plus, it helps ease the tension and stress of the process. Having fun was exactly what I had in mind when I recently picked up the new Remington Tac-14 for review. Somewhere along the way, someone figured something out. After reviewing NFA laws and declarations by the BATFE as to what constitutes NFA “items,” someone came up with the notion of making a “firearm” that fires 12-gauge shells available in a package that includes just a 14-inch barrel. One might wonder what kind of dark magic this is, but there’s nothing nefarious afoot. It’s just simply threading through the mass of NFA rules and regulations to come up with a way to provide a weapon style most people didn’t know they had access to before all this came about.

› Right: The author tried some of Federal Premium’s 3-inch 000 Buck and got some nice patterns at 10 yards—just enough spread to help with the hip shooting.

› Below: The Remington Tac-14 is one of a couple of products on the market that offer something new and unexpected.

MASTERING THE PUZZLE Basically, there are two parts to this puzzle. The first part is that the Remington Tac-14 comes from the factory with a Shockwave Technologies Raptor pistol grip, rather than a stock. Had it come with a stock, an 18-inch barrel and fired shot-shells, it would be classified as a

WITH THE ADDITION OF A LASER MODULE (PREFERABLY GREEN FOR DAYLIGHT VISIBILITY), IT’S MUCH EASIER TO GET A GOOD POINT OF AIM BY JUST PARKING THE DOT RIGHT ON THE TARGET. 40

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BUILT ON THE FAMOUS 870 PLATFORM, THE REMINGTON TAC-14 EXCITES WITH ITS SLEEK LINES, APPOINTMENTS AND OVERALL FORM FACTOR. “shotgun.” But, because it did not come from the factory with a stock, but a pistol grip, it is deemed a “firearm” instead. And because it is not a shotgun, the requirement for an 18-inch barrel is null and void. The BATFE requires that a “firearm” be at least 26 inches long to avoid being classified as an AOW (“any other weapon”). An AOW is an NFA item that requires the lengthy background check and a tax stamp issued by the BATFE before you can legally own it. I just went through this process with an SBR (short-barreled rifle) and had to wait 11 months and 2 weeks before I was approved. The 26-inch length is what the BATFE believes is sufficient for a firearm not to be concealable on one’s person. This is what allows the use of a 14-inch barrel. That’s

just enough barrel to make the 26-inch overall length threshold of the firearm so that any civilian can purchase and possess the Tac-14 without going through the NFA process.

THE BOOM STICK Built on the famous 870 platform, the Remington Tac-14 excites with its sleek lines, appointments and overall form factor. Because of its shorter length, the Tac-14 has a reduced capacity of 4+1 rounds. But considering its 12-gauge ammunition, that’s nothing to sneeze at. That capacity is for 2¾-inch ammunition. The Tac-14 does also fire 3-inch 12-gauge rounds, but that will put you into 3+1 territory for the overall capacity—not to mention the extra wallop packed by the larger rounds. The overall length of the Tac-14 is actually 26.3 inches, with a barrel length of 14 inches. The weight of Remington’s stubby firearm is 5.6 pounds. Although it is a bit weighty, it seems to help with some recoil reduction. In addition, the Tac-14 comes with Magpul’s M-Lok forend. This is a handy item for the attachment of a laser or a flashlight. Some folks might even want a vertical foregrip. I’ve done quite a bit of research, and it seems that one would be legal on the Tac-14—but don’t take my word for it. Get a ruling in writing by the BATFE just to be sure, or do your own research. NFA laws are dicey enough to get you into big trouble with the slightest mistake, so why not cover your bases? The cylinder-bore barrel, along with the rest of the firearm, is finished in black oxide, and it sports a bead-type front sight. This entire package of awesome goodness has a beginning MSRP of $443.05, so it’s already going for under $400 on the street. That’s not a bad price for a home-defense package such as this.

WHY THE TAC-14? Take away the cool factor of the Remington Tac-14; is there justification for its use in a defensive role? My answer would be, “Absolutely”—and for several reasons. Even with a 14-inch barrel, a 12-gauge load packs a heck of a punch. But with the 14-inch barrel, the firearm is much more maneuverable indoors than an actual shotgun, with its fixed stock and much longer barrel.

REMINGTON TAC-14 SPECS CALIBER:

12 GAUGE

BARREL:

14.0 INCHES

OVERALL LENGTH:

26.3 INCHES

WEIGHT:

5.6 POUNDS

STOCK/GRIPS:

RAPTOR PISTOL GRIP; MAGPUL FOREND

SIGHTS:

GOLD BEAD FRONT SIGHT

ACTION:

PUMP

FINISH:

BLACK OXIDE

CAPACITY:

4+1 (2¾ INCH)

MSRP:

$443.05

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‹ With Federal Premium’s 00 Buck Tactical LE loads, at 5 yards, there wasn’t much spread, and each of the shots ended up being one hole.

‹ Both patterns shot with Hornady’s #4 Buck: The left was fired at 5 yards; the right group was fired at 10.

IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING POWERFUL THAT IS NOT YOUR RUN-OF-THEMILL DEFENSIVE TOOL, LOOK NO FURTHER THAN THE REMINGTON TAC-14. IT OFFERS ALL THE POWER YOU’LL NEED IN A SELF-DEFENSE WEAPON.

Another bonus, at least for me: Here, in Kentucky, if you have a concealed deadly weapon license, and if it’s legal to own, you can carry it concealed. Now, I would not go all Matrix-y with a black trench coat, but the Tac-14 wouldn’t be a bad car gun to have on hand in addition to your regular concealed-carry handgun. Nevertheless, you’ll have to check with your local laws to see what’s allowed where you live. An advantage of the Tac-14 is the Magpul M-Lok forend. While it may not seem like much, it can make a world of difference. When shooting the Tac-14, I had to get used to shooting from the hip at various distances. I was usually okay on the rightto-left aiming, but it was very easy for me to go high on the shots because of the angle of the barrel. With the addition of a laser module (preferably green for daylight visibility), it’s much easier to get a good point of aim by just parking the dot right on the target. This will help do away with aiming errors you’d encounter while trying to shoot from the hip.

MESSING WITH THE LOCALS At the local range, it didn’t take long for a line of shooters to stream by and check out the Tac-14. It was as if the firearm had struck some primal chord within all of them. Faraway gazes and the slight bit of drool at the corner of the month indicated how much the Tac-14 was favored by the local crowd. So, in addition to my shooting it, I let

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‹ Despite the 12-gauge power factor, the recoil of the Tac-14 was still manageable with 2¾-inch shells.

IT’S A SHOVEL. IT’S A BLADE. IT’S A DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. THE SCHRADE TELESCOPING FOLDING SHOVEL. A tool of ultimate efficiency that doubles as a sign of your self sufficiency. With sharpened edges and a folding, telescoping design that’s virtually indestructible when engaged, you’re equipped to RELY ON YOU.

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a few of those interested shoot it, as well. It came as no surprise that it was a big hit with the crowd. I (we) tried three basic loads; two were of the 2¾-inch variety. Included were the Federal LE Tactical 00 Buck and its 3-inch 000 Buck, and Hornady’s Varmint Express 2 ¾-inch #4 Buck. Right off the bat, the 2¾-inch loads were very manageable. I felt the recoil, but it wasn’t overwhelming. The Raptor grip seemed to do its job by rolling in the hand for a softer recoil experience than what one would find with a normal pistol-gripped shotgun—which this isn’t. It’s a pistol-gripped firearm. The 3-inch 000 Buck shells were a different matter. For me, each one of the shots was rather painful, and the front of the trigger guard removed a layer of flesh off the top of my middle finger with each shot. Could you use those loads for self-defense?

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› Above: The compact profile of the Tac-14 makes it a very portable package for the enthusiast or the hard-core operator.

› Right: With the Raptor grip, designed to allow the firearm to roll in the hand, the best position for firing the Tac-14 is the hip.

AMERICAN SURVIVAL GUIDE [DECEMBER 2017]


‹ A coup for the Tac-14 is the inclusion of the Magpul M-LOK forend that can be used for the addition of multiple accessories.

Sure, because you’d only be firing a few anyway. But it’s not necessary. I just wanted to see how the 3-inch rounds fired. It’s my opinion that the 2¾-inch loads will provide all the punch you need. One thing that’s very apparent is that Federal Premium’s Tru Flite-Control wad really works. From 5 to 10 yards, you essentially get one hole from the two loads. At 15 yards, the 00 Buck rounds start to open up just a bit. The 000 Buckshot opened up a good bit more at 15 yards, but they still ran rather tight, even with such a short barrel. However, at 10 yards, the #4 Buck from Hornady averaged a spread of 8 inches—a bit wider than the rest. Yes, the one-hole spreads pack quite a punch, but without the good spread, it’s possible to miss the target close in when firing from the hip. There were instances I hit too high and missed over the shoulder. This is where I believe a laser module would be extremely handy. At distances that are close (such as indoors), the laser can provide an excellent way to aim from the hip with confidence to deliver those tight clusters of buckshot at the right spot on the target. Otherwise, lots of practice is necessary to make sure your hip shooting is on point at various distances. Overall, the handling was quite nice. Recoil

Fits broken-down AR’s with up to 10.5” barrels

‹ Below, left: As per the standard 870 layout, the Tac-14’s safety is a cross-bolt type located at the rear of the trigger guard.

‹ Below, right: The Tac-14 comes with the Raptor pistol grip, which helps with the length of the firearm and also assists with better control and recoil management during fire.

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was manageable with standard loads. In addition, the reliability was excellent with the various rounds that were tried. The action was fairly smooth, and the trigger pull was set at a nice compromise point: an average of 5.15 pounds. All in all, for this type of package, everything you could want is right here with the Tac-14.

AT THE LOCAL RANGE, IT DIDN’T TAKE LONG FOR A LINE OF SHOOTERS TO STREAM BY AND CHECK OUT THE TAC-14. COME AND GET ONE! Aside from being an extremely fun firearm to shoot, the Remington Tac-14 is a serious defensive weapon that will serve you well in the home or vehicle. The biggest hurdle to overcome is getting the hip-shooting to an art form. After that, you’re golden. With a quite reasonable starting MSRP of just $443.05, you get a tool that packs a serious punch. Quality components such as the Raptor grip and the Magpul M-LOK forend also help improve the shooting experience at that price point. If you’re looking for something powerful that is not your run-of-the-mill defensive tool, look no further than the Remington Tac-14. It offers all the power you’ll need in a self-defense weapon. For close-up work, it’s hard to find something that is as potent as a premier 12-gauge load, and its compact form factor makes it highly maneuverable and easier to retain from an evil-doer. The Tac-14 has it all, and as Ash Williams would say, “Hail to the king, baby.” ASG

› The capacity of the Remington Tac-14 with 2¾-inch shells is 4+1.

› The Tac-14 comes with a typical gold-bead front sight that probably won’t get used, because the Tac-14 is intended to be shot from the hip.

› While the 2¾-inch loads were easily managed, the 3-inch loads caused a little damage to the hands because of the lack of a stock to prevent rearward movement.

S O U R C E Remington Arms (800) 243-9700 www.Remington.com

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KEEP CLEAN AFTER THE CATASTROPHE WHY SANITATION AND CLEANLINESS ARE IMPERATIVE BY CHRISTOPHER NYERGES

I

n the aftermath of an urban disaster, one of the greatest shocks to the survivors will be the absence of certain municipal services that had been taken for granted. Chief among these expectations are the ready availability of food, medical care, and good sanitation and trash removal. In situations for which these three fundamental needs are lacking, horrendous personal living conditions ensue. Unfortunately, those circumstances result because residents came to depend on the modern city society to provide these services. And, because we’ve long depended on others in our urban setting to provide these services, we’ve generally lost the knowledge and skills required to deal with these issues in an emergency. Hence, the predictable results after an emergency: panic, pain, disease and death.

Health officials have long pointed out that far more people die in the unsanitary aftermath that follows a major disaster than from the disaster itself. If 100 people died in the wreckage of a major urban earthquake, you might expect hundreds to perhaps even thousands more deaths in the aftermath. These can result from the contaminated water supply and environment, absent sanitation services, untreated injuries and infections, and the lack of electricity for medical services and many other necessities. This is why everyone should learn to grow and store a significant portion of their own food. This is why everyone should know basic first aid skills and store first aid supplies. We should learn all aspects of basic home hygiene and sanitation in the event we lose access to running water, a working toilet, or a functional shower or bathtub.

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© GETTY IMAGES

HOSPITAL POTTY When I was in my teens and still living with my parents, we wondered what we’d do for a toilet if an earthquake took out the sewer lines. My mother had grown up on a farm in rural Ohio; and, with no indoor plumbing until after World War II, her family used an outhouse. Consequently, she knew that if you placed a closet-like room over a deep hole, all the toilet contents would eventually decompose. But we lived in urban Pasadena, where backyard outhouses were illegal. My mother, who was also a nurse, came up with a solution: She obtained a used hospital porta-potty for our use during emergencies. It was just a chair with a pot under the seat, but we felt confident we were now well-prepared in the event of an earthquake. We only had to use it once (when my father was sick and couldn’t walk to the bathroom). We had a small garden in a side yard where we would make compost and add horse and chicken manure to the mix. We didn’t figure there was any big deal about adding some human manure to the mix—although we were completely ignorant of the many ramifications of doing so at the time.

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‹ Above: Two portable outhouses. They are fine in emergencies, but they still must be maintained and emptied.

› Right: Some sawdust (foreground, right) is added to the toilet after each use. (Photo: Christopher Nyerges)

AMERICAN SURVIVAL GUIDE [DECEMBER 2017]


RV TOILET Later, I moved into a small house on a large property on the fringe of Los Angeles and lived there as a squatter for a year and a half. The plumbing was fine. Even so, among other things, I researched and practiced urban survival skills while living there. Later, in order to test the viability of an indoor nonflush toilet in the aftermath of an earthquake, a local nonprofit commissioned me to test an RV toilet. The RV toilet was simply a standard plastic bucket inside a larger container. I put this RV toilet into the bathroom and used it exclusively for a 30-day period. Even the occasional guest would use the RV toilet. It had to be emptied every few days, so I dug a trench out in the yard for that purpose. The trench was about 3 feet deep and about 2x5 feet wide. I covered the toilet contents each time with a layer of straw, soil and wood shavings. Eventually, I grew an amazing tomato patch in that trench. (I described the details of this experiment in my book, Extreme Simplicity: Homesteading in the City, available from Dover Press.)

COMBATING ODORS Inside, we didn’t want to use the mysterious blue liquid given to us by the RV toilet manufacturer. It was designed as a disinfectant that also combated odors. We assumed that the blue stuff would not be available after an earthquake, so we experimented with a sustainable alternative. To combat odors and not attract flies, we experimented with baking soda, lemon juice and wood ash. Baking soda added to the toilet after each use worked fine, but if we didn’t have a good supply, we’d quickly run out. Because we had a lemon tree in the yard, we experimented with lemons, which worked fine (but not everyone has a lemon tree). We also experimented with other aspects of self-reliance, so we used a little woodstove for cooking and constantly accumulated ash. We found that a few scoops of wood ash into the toilet after each use combated the odors; and wood ashes would always be available where people cooked their food. I did this for only 30 days, but I saw no reason we could not have done it “forever” if we needed to. It was fully sustainable and simply required someone to regularly empty the bucket.

‹ Below: These are considered “normal” conditions in this Cambodian home compound for poorly paid garment workers. In the aftermath of any major disaster, you’d need to accomplish at least this level of ability to have a toilet and a means to wash.

VINEGAR OF FOUR THIEVES If you would like to try the Vinegar of Four Thieves recipe, here are the ingredients:

© GETTY IMAGES

2 quarts (half-gallon) apple cider vinegar 2 tablespoons lavender 2 tablespoons sage 2 tablespoons rue 2 tablespoons garlic buds 2 tablespoons rosemary 2 tablespoons wormwood 2 tablespoons mint Combine the herbs and steep in the vinegar in the sun for two weeks. Strain. Add two tablespoons of garlic buds and steep for several days. Remove. To preserve, add 4 ounces of glycerin.

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… WE’VE GENERALLY LOST THE KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS REQUIRED TO DEAL WITH THESE ISSUES IN AN EMERGENCY. HENCE, THE PREDICTABLE RESULTS AFTER AN EMERGENCY: PANIC, PAIN, DISEASE AND DEATH. WORM COMPOSTING TOILET ‹ Above: If you cook in your backyard, you can use the wood ash to add to your toilet after each use during an emergency. (Photo: Christopher Nyerges)

A few years later, I experimented with a worm composting toilet in my backyard. This required at least some outdoor space and so wouldn’t be viable for apartment dwellers—at least not the way I did it. I put a hospital potty, minus the pot, out in a private part of the yard and had a square, wooden box underneath. After each use, I added a shovelful of wormy compost from my worm farm. Once the box was full, I simply moved the potty to a new spot with a new box. Because of the use of earthworms, the contents were always quickly reduced to good fertilizer. Although I have not yet addressed this in this article, human manure has the possibility of spreading diseases, so a hot composting period is the best way to reduce it to good, usable soil. Still, with all the drugs and medicines people take, the compost can be toxic. Thus, never use such fertilizer on food crops. Use it instead on ornamental or decorative plants. If you only have food crops planted, use the manure on fruit and nut trees and maybe things such as tomatoes and corn—but never on root crops such as carrots and potatoes. (I described the details of setting up such a toilet, as well as toilets without plumbing that have been used in Third World countries, in my book, Self-Sufficient Home, from Stackpole Press.)

BUCKET TOILET We have also made toilets according to the manner often described in FEMA literature. We lined a plastic bucket with a plastic bag and added a toilet seat to the top (you can buy toilet seats that snap onto a standard plastic bucket where camping goods are sold). After each use of this system, the ideal thing to add is wood chips or shavings that can usually be obtained for free from local wood shops. When the bag is half-full, you remove and discard it. If you are expecting to go a long time without sewage service or trash removal, you can either store these bags for future use—or, assuming you have the space, bury the contents somewhere in your yard and cover them after each addition. ‹ Above: Wood ashes from the wood stove can be added to an emergency toilet after each use to reduce odors and flies. (Photo: Christopher Nyerges)

WILDERNESS TOILET During desert survival trips, for which we stayed at a primitive base camp, we always assembled a toilet with privacy as a top priority. For us, this meant we’d place a potty over a hole and build walls with plywood or whatever wood was available. On occasion, we would quickly nail or lash a seat together, which was then placed over the hole. Dirt was added to the hole after each use. Having a plan and the supplies for an emergency toilet are major parts of sanitation if the plumbing fails to work. People handled human waste for millennia without plumbing, but if they didn’t want disease and pestilence to befall them, they always followed certain rules and guidelines. This means that in the aftermath of an emergency, when you no longer have running water and the normal elements of sanitation, you need to do everything in your power to stay clean and avoid sources of infection and disease.

STAY CLEAN

‹ Above: An outdoor sink is easy to set up. You can use an old indoor sink. Set it up where the water can flow from the drain into your yard or garden. (Photo: Christopher Nyerges)

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You should store soap in your household; most soap will store for decades. Soap would also be a good trade article in the aftermath of a serious disaster. For long-term survival, knowing how to make soap would be a valuable skill (refer to the May 2017 issue of American Survival Guide, which featured an article on soap-making and using certain plants as a soap substitute).


Lacking sufficient clean water, you could dilute vinegar or lemon juice for wiping your hands or washing wounds. You should also do your best to keep your clothes relatively clean and disinfected. If nothing else, shake out your clothes each day, turn them inside out and hang them in the sun for a few hours. It is important to regularly wash your hands and take a shower or bath. Lacking a municipal water supply, you should have water stored for such an occasion. I have also long kept a solar shower—one of those bags you fill with water and lay out in the sun to be heated. These are real life-savers. You can fill them with water and take your shower outside before the sun goes down, letting the water drain into your garden. You can also buy a shower booth from many of the backpacking catalogs and online stores.

GENERAL SANITATION It’s important to stay clean, especially after a breakdown of municipal sanitation. Watch what you touch, and reconsider whether or not to shake people’s hands. Be extra conscious about putting your

SODIS In the United States, most campers assume raw water should be boiled for a period of 10 minutes before drinking, just to be safe. In some countries, however, the ability to boil water has proven to be a major obstacle, in large part because of a lack of firewood. Research shows that all pathogens in the water are dead when the water reaches around 170 degrees (F). So, in fact, simply bringing the water to a boil is sufficient. But what if you simply cannot, or don’t deem it wise to, make a fire to purify your water? According to various international agencies, clear plastic water bottles can serve a valuable role in disinfecting water. This method is called SODIS—for SOlar water DISinfection. (The December 2016 issue of American Survival Guide featured an article on how to make potable water using this method.) Here is how this method is practiced in India: 1. Select a clear PET plastic bottle that is free of scratches and dirt. These are relatively common and available worldwide.

2.

Fill the bottle three-quarters of the way with clear water; shake to aerate. (If the collected water is cloudy or contains suspended debris, it should first be allowed to settle in another container, such as a bucket. Then, the water should be strained through a cloth before being poured into the plastic bottle.) 3. Fill the bottle the rest of the way; secure the lid tightly. 4. Expose the bottled water to the sun by laying the bottle on its side, either on a roof or somewhere in full sun, ideally on a corrugated metal roof. 5. Wait about six hours during full sunlight before you drink the water. Although it is very effective, SODIS is not free of limitations. For one, adequate sunlight is necessary: The bottle should be in the sun for at least two consecutive days if the sky is over 50 percent cloudy.

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finger in your mouth or nose or scratching your eyes. When people take hot water and soap for granted, they are less likely to immediately be extra cautious after some disaster, which might be accompanied by an outbreak of cholera or some other infectious disease. If you’re using water from a large bucket, for example, establish some protocol so that the main bucket does not become contaminated. If the water bucket has a spigot (and it should), your problems are diminished considerably. However, if you’re using a bucket from which water has to be scooped, be extra careful that the scooper doesn’t get dirty.

VINEGAR OF FOUR THIEVES

‹ Above: A jar of “the Vinegar of Four Thieves” stands at the ready. Always use only raw apple cider vinegar. (Photo: Christopher Nyerges)

‹ Below: Wood ash from a fire pit or fireplace can be added to the emergency toilet after each use to reduce odor and flies.

© GETTY IMAGES

Some centuries ago, during an outbreak of bubonic plague in France, four thieves managed to loot the empty, plague-ridden homes without contracting the dreaded plague. That story immediately caught my attention when I read it, because our society is probably ripe for such an outbreak of disease … for a variety of reasons. If a widespread outbreak of plague were to erupt anywhere in a large U.S. city, would we realistically be able to rely on doctors and hospitals? Some accounts from the Middle Ages tell us that during some of the worst plague outbreaks, the dead outnumbered the living, and the dead could not be buried fast enough. If that were to happen here, to us, who would operate the 911 phone lines? Would the paramedics be able to handle the emergency? What would happen to basic “law and order”? Well, it wouldn’t be a pretty sight! Anyway, as the story goes, these four thieves were arrested and brought before a French judge in Marseille. Wondering aloud, the judge asked how it was that these four thieves managed to resist the plague, especially because they had been in and out of so many plague-infested homes.

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© GETTY IMAGES

MUST-HAVE SANITATION ITEMS FOR YOUR SURVIVAL PACK Everyone should have a small pack, such as a fanny pack or small backpack, ready to grab and carry in the event of an emergency. Yes, carry that knife, firestarter and twine, but don’t forget items that will aid in basic sanitation. Add a roll of toilet paper, if possible, in a plastic bag. For space, you can flatten the roll. Include a water container, a water purifier and a hand sanitizer. And don’t forget a very basic first aid kit, at least.

‹ Above: Everywhere you go, you need toilet paper!

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© GETTY IMAGES

‹ Above: In 2006 in the Philippines, survivors of the volcanic mud flows that resulted from heavy rains wash salvaged household supplies.

IN THE AFTERMATH OF AN URBAN DISASTER, ONE OF THE GREATEST SHOCKS TO THE SURVIVORS WILL BE THE ABSENCE OF CERTAIN MUNICIPAL SERVICES THAT HAD BEEN TAKEN FOR GRANTED.

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from biting us and helps reduce heat stress when working out in the sun. Whole books have been written about the health benefits of vinegar, such as Folk Medicine, by D.C. Jarvis, M.D. However, be sure to use only raw apple cider vinegar. Also, the garlic has anti-bacterial properties, as does the herb, rue. I’ve never seen an analysis of this exact recipe combination, but I suspect that similar concoctions would work as well, assuming they had at least the vinegar, garlic and rue. Keep in mind that sanitation is not about looking good or smelling good. Staying clean means avoiding infection and germs and staying healthy and alive. ASG

AMERICAN SURVIVAL GUIDE [DECEMBER 2017]

© GETTY IMAGES

“We drink and wash with this vinegar preparation every few hours,” they answered. Then, the judge made a shrewd bargain: The thieves would be given their freedom in exchange for their anti-plague recipe. This recipe is recorded in Dian Buchman’s Herbal Medicine book. Buchman writes, “This recipe has been used for centuries, but legend has it that it was discovered during a devastating bubonic plague.” (See the sidebar on page 51 for the recipe.) Vinegar is probably the most active ingredient in this recipe. We have used raw apple cider vinegar (in our drinking water, in a ratio of about 2 teaspoons per quart) and have found that it keeps the mosquitoes

‹ Right: An Amazonian outhouse in the outback of Ecuador


GIVE THE GIFT OF SURVIVAL! A SHOPPING LIST EVEN SANTA WOULD BE PROUD OF BY MICHAEL D’ANGONA

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hat is better than giving someone a gift for the holidays? How about giving a gift that can save their life? Unexpected emergencies happen, and unfortunately, most people don’t have the necessary supplies to meet both the short- and long-term time frames of survival. Help remedy this situation by providing them with a gift that can get them through the chaos and back on the road to a normal life. From just being able to eat a daily meal or having enough water to drink to tending to accidents and mishaps, to being able to signal and call for help—all these categories are vital for an individual’s survival. Be giving this holiday season. In doing so, you not only show your generosity but also that you care that your loved ones will make it through any unforeseen emergency situation that comes their way.

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FOOD Astronaut Foods Red Seedless Grapes Overview

Specifications

Have a delicious and healthful freeze-dried snack anywhere, any time with Astronaut’s red seedless grapes. Bursting with flavor and enjoyable right out of the package, these tasty treats come in handy when hunger strikes while you’re hunkered down or at camp in the middle of the night. The durable Mylar pouches fit easily in jacket pockets or supply bags. These freeze-dried grapes make a perfect snack for both kids and adults.

• Single 0.5-ounce serving • Ready to eat • Healthful snack • Durable packaging • Long shelf life

MSRP $2.50

URL www.AstronautFoods.com

SurePak MRE Full Meals Overview

Specifications

When power fails, and your local supermarket shelves are wiped clean of all food, what do you do? Nothing—that is, if you are prepared. With these 12-pack full-MRE meals, you can have tasty, nutritious, hot food. Because, they come complete with their own flameless heaters that activate with only a few tablespoons of water, your entire family can survive and thrive on MREs until things get back to normal. These are great gifts that will definitely be appreciated when things turn bad.

• 800–1,200 calories per meal • Shelf life of up to five years • Flameless heaters included • Factory-sealed case • Made in the U.S.A.

MSRP $85

URL www.TheEpiCenter.com

Patriot Seeds Organic Survival Seed Vault

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Overview

Specifications

After a severe long-term emergency, food could become scarce. Solve part of this problem by growing your own vegetables. Within this tiny can is a virtual garden stocked with only the best heirloom seeds—perfect for replanting year after year. Enjoy tasty and nutritious vegetables such as tangy tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, peppers and much more. While others search for food, you’ll be producing healthful varieties in your own food plot. These seeds are non-GMO and 100 percent organic.

• 21 varieties included • USDA-certified organic heirloom seeds • Stores for up to five years • Can be harvested and replanted • Growing and seed-saving guide included

MSRP $29.95

URL www.MyPatriotSupply.com


Jerky Xpress Food Dehydrator Overview

Specifications

Make long-life survival food and have a fun time doing it. Create “tons” of jerky for your next outdoor adventure with this all-inclusive dehydrator. All you need is the meat of your choice. With the included spice and cure packs, you’ll have tasty jerky in no time. Easy to operate. And with full instructions, every member of the family can create their own favorites.

• 350 watts; 120 volts • Fixed temperature top power head • Patented fan-flow air-drying technology • Included jerky gun and three tip attachments • Four spice and cure packs • Four drying trays for maximum efficiency

MSRP $ 57.95

URL www.Nesco.com

Long Term Food Storage Deluxe Survival Kit Overview

Specifications

When food becomes scarce during a natural or manmade emergency, you’ll have all you need to survive for the first few weeks until order returns to your area. Stocked with everyone’s favorites—such as stroganoff, cheese lasagna, Southwest beans and rice, beef teriyaki and more—you’ll have breakfast, lunch and dinner covered. Also featured in this kit are water purification items, communication devices, shelter materials, valuable tools and first aid items. You’ll have a complete survival kit ready to tackle any emergency that comes your way.

• 44 total meals • Durable carry bag • Feeds one person for 14 days • Seven-year shelf life • Contains shelter, health, comms and other gear

MSRP $289.99

URL www.SurvivalMetrics.com

Patriot Pantry One Week Food Supply Overview

Specifications

Food stores shut down? Not a problem when you have this delicious, full week’s supply of emergency food on hand. This kit provides one adult with 40 servings of healthy and delicious dehydrated food and snacks during nearly any type of survival situation. Just add hot water to the durable Mylar pouch, and within minutes, you will be enjoying tasty, creamy chicken, Traveler’s stew, Granny’s potato soup, macaroni-and-cheese and many more. This item stores well for up to 25 years.

• Military-grade Mylar pouches • Long shelf life • 40 adult servings • Perfect for any emergency • Tasty and nutritious

MSRP $67

URL www. MyPatriotSupply.com

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MRE Star Standard 12 Meal Case Overview

Specifications

MREs are not just for the military anymore. In fact, under emergency conditions, they can be eaten right out of the packaging with no heating required. Enjoy tasty comfort foods such as pasta marinara, chicken and rice, BBQ chicken, chicken noodle soup and many more. All standard MREs include an entrée, two or three sides, a drink mix and an accessory pack. Included flameless heaters turn your food steaming hot in minutes. Buy by the case, and be worry-free whenever disaster strikes.

• 1,100–1,300 calories per meal • Long shelf life • Eat hot or cold • Tasty and nutritional foods

MSRP $97.95

URL www.MRE-Meals.net

Patriot Pantry Deluxe Dessert Kit Overview

Specifications

It’s the little things that matter, and during a survival situation, dessert can add a touch of comfort when emotions get low. The sweet and delicious taste of fudge brownies, blueberry muffins, chocolate pudding and more can lift nearly anyone’s spirits, no matter how bad things might seem. This dessert kit uses dehydration to lock in flavor and sweetness, so you can enjoy great taste and texture for years to come without any loss of quality.

• Dessert servings: blueberry muffins (72); fudge brownies (48);, chocolate pudding (30); banana chips (48); strawberry chips (32) • Created with low-heat dehydration • 25-year shelf life • No genetically modified ingredients

MSRP $154.75

URL www.MyPatriotSupply.com

WATER Blue Can Water

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Overview

Specifications

Water is essential during nearly every type of emergency. Three days without it, and you won’t survive. Stock up now with emergency canned drinking water. These 24-pack cases stack and store easily in your garage, car or anywhere you keep your survival supplies. They have incredibly long shelf lives and are purified for freshness, taste and quality.

• 50-year shelf life • Easy to store • Purified water • 24 12-ounce cans

MSRP $29.95

URL www.TheEpiCenter.com


SteriPen Ultra UV Water Purifier Overview

Specifications

Always have protection from “bad” water with the SteriPen Ultra. This amazing device uses ultraviolet light to purify questionable water by destroying bacteria, protozoa and viruses. It’s 99.9 percent effective at eliminating these potential causes of water-borne illnesses. Operation is easy: Just press the button, agitate the water with a quick stir and, within a minute, you’ll have a 16-ounce serving of water purified and ready to drink. You can’t risk not having this potentially life-saving device.

• Recharges through USB cable • Low-power indicator light • Simple to use • Can be used up to 8,000 times • Pocket sized to travel with you

MSRP $ 99.95

URL www.SteriPen.com

Coghlan’s Two-Step Drinking Water Treatment Overview

Specifications

This water treatment provides pocket-sized protection when disinfection of water is an absolute must. The emergency germicidal and neutralizing tablets make biologically contaminated water suitable for drinking. You don’t have to take a chance with questionable water any longer. Follow directions, and, in no time, you will have purified drinking water for you and your family. Remember, without water, you only have three days to live, so you can’t afford not to carry these life-saving tablets.

• Easy to use • Iodine-based compound • No unpleasant taste or odor • Treats up to 25 quarts • EPA-registered product

MSRP $11.99

URL www.Coghlans.com

Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter System Overview

Specifications

Enjoy the simplicity and reliability of the most versatile water filtration systems available. Just fill one of the included Mylar pouches with water from any available source, screw on the filter, and quench your thirst. The filter is designed to remove 99.99999 percent of bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli and illness-producing protozoa such as giardia and cryptosporidium. This kit includes collapsible pouches, fiber membrane, screw-on/-off filter, pop-up drinking spout and cleaning syringe.

• 100 percent BPA-free, durable Mylar pouches • Removable push/pull built-in cap • Fits the threads of most common water bottles • Fills most water bottles in 30 seconds • Simple cleaning and maintenance instructions included

MSRP $49.99

URL www. Sawyer.com

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SHELTER Rothco Two-Man Camo Trail Tent Overview

Specifications

Traditional tents never go out of style, and with Rothco’s trail tent, you get a great design and a whole lot more. Reinforced, polyurethane-coated taffeta and floor keep you totally dry during nature’s harshest rainstorms, while storm flaps protect you from fierce winds from the front. The Trail Tent sets up and breaks down easily and comes complete with aluminum poles, stakes, ropes and convenient carry pouch.

• Fire-retardant materials • Woodland camouflage pattern • Fully waterproof exterior • Zippered front door • Traditional design

MSRP $99.99

URL www.Rothco.com

Blizzard Survival Bag Overview

Specifications

Thermal protection when you need it! The Blizzard Survival Bag is your first line of defense against the blistery cold of the outdoors. Its revolutionary design holds body heat in while keeping rain and cold outside. The compact design allows it to be carried easily, no matter where you travel, and is now standard equipment for numerous military and emergency services. This survival bag is available in silver, orange or green.

• 100 percent waterproof • Reusable • Compact and lightweight • Weighs under 1 pound • Perfect for campers, hikers or survivalists

MSRP $43

URL www.BlizzardSurvival.com

Land Shark Instant Survival Shelter Overview

Specifications

When you need shelter fast, turn to the Land Shark. This instant shelter provides incredible heat retention, a windproof and waterproof vapor barrier, and a durable shell that can withstand the rigors of the outdoors. Its bright-orange-colored exterior alerts rescuers of your presence while you remain warm and cozy inside. You can also opt for the camo pattern and blend into your surroundings. This shelter is the perfect gift for anyone who wants to be prepared for the unexpected.

• 550 paracord drawstring • Water-, vapor- and grease-proof vacuum bag • Sturdy carrying and storage pack • Belt loop and hook-and-loop attachment • Instructions provided

MSRP $69.95

URL www.Land-Shark.com

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SOL Travel Nano-Heat Blanket Overview

Specifications

Take this compact, heat-reflective blanket on your next adventure down the street or across the globe and enjoy a warm, snug sleep every night. Utilizing metallic, heat-reflective materials, this pocket-sized blanket goes wherever you do—all the while providing consistent heat-reflective characteristics. This item makes a great gift for the prepper, camper or outdoor explorer on your list.

• 80 percent heat-reflective surface • Metalized outer coating • Repels water, sand, dirt and debris • Compact travel size

MSRP $30

URL www.SurviveOutdoorsLonger.com

Underground Shelters USA Steel Shelters Overview

Specifications

The ultimate gift: safety and security for you and your family if and when the worst possible survival scenario occurs. A nuclear, biological or chemical attack can change the world as we know it; be safe within your underground survival shelter. Constructed of corrugated steel pipe and with plenty of room for food, water, first-aid, communication devices and all your survival gear, you’ll be protected as others struggle to exist above ground. Choose items and systems to suit your needs, and when disaster strikes, your home-away-from-home will be ready for your immediate move-in.

• Choose from 8-, 9-, 10- or 12-foot diameter sizes • Underfloor storage space • Cost-effective protection from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons • Customizable to suit personal needs • Made of steel piping blast-tested up to 200 psi

MSRP $58,850

URL www.UtahShelterSystems.com

SECURITY ZAP Extreme Stun Gun/ Flashlight

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Overview

Specifications

The world can be a dangerous place. Protect yourself with this stun gun/flashlight combo that can help get you out of potentially dangerous situations. When you are attacked, simply press the button and apply the full 1 million volts into your assailant. Six pointed electrodes penetrate clothing and help your attacker “get the point” and back off. The integrated flashlight shines for more than five hours on a single charge and produces 120 lumens of light.

• Built-in NiMH rechargeable battery • Ultra-bright LED • Six ultra-sharp spiked electrodes • Includes carry case and wrist strap • USB wall charger and car charger

MSRP $89.99

URL www.PSProducts.com


Guard Alaska Bear Repellent Overview A bear is bigger than you, stronger than you and faster than you, so you need an edge to protect yourself. That edge is Guard Alaska Bear Repellent. This spray is essentially “pepper spray” for bears and can save you and your family from a possibly horrifying encounter. At the first sign of danger, just point and spray the contents into the face of the oncoming animal and make your escape. This repellent is perfect for anyone who enjoys outdoor trails.

A.P.O.C. KATANA MSRP: $189 SD35510

Leave Nothing to Fate WHETHER IT BE PLAGUE, NATURAL DISASTER, MASS HYSTERIA, NUCLEAR FALLOUT, OR MANKIND’S INEVITABLE A.I. WAR,THESE TACTICAL SWORDS WILL SERVE YOU WELL IN THOSE BLEAK FUTURE DAYS. DESIGNED BY WORLD RENOWNED SWORD MAKER ANGUS TRIM (ATRIM).

Specifications • EPA approved • Environmentally safe • 20-foot range • 9-ounce size

MSRP $34.99

URL www.PSProducts.com

A.P.O.C. CUTLASS MSRP: $119 SD35500

FORGED 9260 SPRING STEEL BLADE DURABLE BLACK OXIDE COATING KYDEX / FIBERGLASS SCABBARD FULL TANG W/ G10 SCALES

Visit our website for more details http://casiberia.com/ Or call us at (800) 635-9366 - Dealer inquiries welcome

Wholesale Distributor


Optics Planet Z.E.R.O. Kit Overview

Specifications

What do you give to the person who has it all? You give them the Z.E.R.O. Kit! The Zombie Extermination Research and Operations package is no joke. This comprehensive assemblage of high-end gear will get you through any real-world dangers you might face. From first aid kits to SOLAG gloves, night vison scopes and a wide variety of knives, tools, cases and packs, the Z.E.R.O. is the mother lode of key security and survival gear for any out-of-control chaotic situation. All products are top quality and will last for years to come. The Z.E.R.O. Kit is an amazing gift for anyone.

• Gear from brands such as 5.11 Tactical, Blackhawk, Brunton, EOTech, OPMOD, Surefire and many others • Workable laboratory equipment • Personal protective gear • This kit takes you from “zero to hero” in one step • Firearms not included

MSRP $19,699

URL www.OpticsPlanet.com

Brite-Strike Camp Alert Perimeter Security System Overview

Specifications

Be alerted to both two- and four-legged “guests” at your homestead or campsite with this simple-to-operate perimeter security system. Utilizing a high-decibel signal and flashing alarm lights, the unit will scare off would-be trespassers long before they get too close to you or your family. Secondary applications of the components allow signaling for help if an accident or emergency strikes and also alert others if you wander too far from camp and get lost. Sleep worry free with this simple, yet highly effective, kit.

• 135 dB alarm • Built-in LED flashlight and signaling light • Two 10-meter coils of trip line • Included zip ties for module attachment • Easy setup and takedown

MSRP $40

URL www.Brite-Strike.com

Brite-Blade Lighted Survival Knife

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Overview

Specifications

This amalgamation of knife and flashlight works to help you accomplish several survival tasks using a single, durable and trusty tool. Held together by a powerful magnet, yet easily detachable, the main flashlight produces 45 lumens of intense white light, while its smaller counterpart projects a beam of red LED lighting wherever you need it. The knife, itself, is built tough and is available with either a combo or plain-edge blade—ready to take on whatever survival situation might arise.

• Spring-assisted opening • Overall length: 8.6 inches • Blade: 3.5 inches long; 1/8 inch thick • 440C stainless steel with proprietary titanium coating

MSRP $69.99

URL www.Brite-Strike.com


COMMS Midland XT511 Emergency Crank Base Camp Radio Overview

Specifications

Natural disasters can knock out power—and with it, important emergency information from TV, radio or the Internet. Be “in the know” with this amazing portable communications center. Powered by electricity or hand power, this unit keeps broadcasting after the grid goes down. Use it for weather updates, communication with loved ones or just relaxing to music as you wait out the storm. This radio is a must-have for everyone’s household.

• 22 GMRS two-way radio channels • 121 privacy codes to block other conversations • NOAA weather alert radio • Five call alerts identify friends and family • Five power options • Flashlight • USB connector lets you recharge cell phones

MSRP $ 89.99

URL www.MidlandUSA.com

SOL Sharx Signal Whistle Overview Sometimes, low-tech can save your life. This simple whistle could mean the difference between a search party finding you or remaining lost in the harsh outdoors. Small enough to fit in any pocket, this signaling device blasts a high-decibel sound for miles around you. It won’t freeze or stick to your lips when used in the intense cold. Add it to your keyring so you’ll always have this lifesaver nearby.

Specifications • Four-resonator body • Rubber grip inserts • 120-decibel, dual-frequency signal • ABS plastic body • Integrated key ring

MSRP $10

URL www.SurviveOutdoorsLonger.com


HEALTH The Survival Medicine Handbook Overview

Specifications

Written by Dr. Joe Alton and Amy Alton, this medical guide is specifically designed to enforce the concept that no hospital or medical facilities are in your reach. This book is a definitive how-to guide when you have to rely only on yourself during a natural or man-made disaster or when you are alone and injured in the isolated outdoors. This handbook covers such diverse topics as radiation sickness, biological warfare, seizure disorders, altitude sickness, women’s health concerns and dozens of others. You’ll find that no condition is omitted in this informative and comprehensive book. It is perfect for anyone studying survival, disaster relief, or the field of medicine and first aid.

• Step-by-step medical instructions • Written by trained medical professionals • Explores alternative medical options • Simple to understand, written in plain English • Dozens of topics covered and explored

MSRP $35.99

URL www.Amazon.com

Camillus Les Stroud Slingpack First Aid Kit Overview

Specifications

Les Stroud, survivalist and true outdoorsman, puts his stamp of approval on this amazing first aid sling pouch. It is complete with all the necessities to patch yourself up when injuries or accidents occur when you’re off the beaten path. Constructed of tough, ripstop nylon and reinforced straps, this bag can endure harsh outdoor environments while keeping its contents safe, secure and dry. Because it is ultra-organized, you’ll have what you need to treat nearly any minor injury in seconds. You can’t afford not to carry this trusted first aid kit out in the field.

• Complete wound care items • Pain-relieving medications • Easy-access, organized pockets • Compact, easy to carry • Includes first aid guide

MSRP $69.95

URL www.CamillusKnives.com

Afterbite for Kids Overview

Specifications

Kids love the outdoors—and biting insects love kids. Fight back after painful bites with Afterbite, which is especially formulated for the tender and often picked-over skin of young children. Using the soothing properties of baking soda, aloe and tea tree oil, this formula will help the itching subside, so everyone can get back to enjoying their outdoor activities. The 7-ounce tube offers plenty of protection for a large family or group.

• Non-stinging • Instant relief • Sooths fly, mosquito, bee and wasp bites • Easy-to-apply tube • Sensitive formula for children

MSRP $3.99

URL www.AdventureMedicalKits.com

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WHAT ARE YOU CARRYING?

You appreciate fine machinery. So do we. That’s why we make sure every Kershaw offers you quality, top performance, and value. We pay attention to the details so that every time you take your Kershaw out of your pocket, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing it’s a tool worth owning.

1670NBSW

kershawknives.com

BLUR


SMARTPHONE NAVIGATION WITHOUT THE WEB USE A GPS SMARTPHONE APP TO FIND YOUR WAY WITHOUT AN INTERNET CONNECTION.

© GETTY IMAGES

BY LARRY SCHWARTZ

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M

ost of us carry a smartphone, be it an Android or an iPhone, as part of our everyday-carry items. We use it as a phone, a camera, for Internet access, and for music and movies. One of the features we might not think about—but one that is used by every application that is location enabled—is the Global Positioning System, or GPS, receiver that is built into the phone. That little chip provides information to location-enabled apps to help you find a nearby gas station when you are running low on fuel, directs you to your favorite restaurants and, of course, it is the backbone of the street navigation applications that get you from point A to point B so effectively. That same position-locating function is also the backbone of navigation tools that are based on topographic maps when you need to get somewhere without roads.

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‹ The most common use of GPS circuitry in our lives is probably the GPS we use in our cars to find the best route to wherever we are driving. It can be built into the car, a standalone GPS device or a smartphone.

AMERICAN SURVIVAL GUIDE [DECEMBER 2017]

Applications such as Google Maps or MapQuest use a database of street segments to create a digital model of the roads you drive. The GPS circuit tells it where you are on that digital road model. However, topographic navigation apps use a digital model made from contour lines instead of road segments.

HOW IT WORKS The GPS circuit in the phone actually does a fairly simple thing: It figures out where you are on the giant ball we call Earth. The way it determines your position is through a process called “triangulation.” There are currently 32 satellites (up from the initial 24) that orbit the Earth and continuously transmit their locations toward Earth. The GPS receiver in your phone receives the signals from all of the satellites it can see. With input from three or more, it then calculates the direction, angle and distance to the satellite. It overlays the line from the satellites, and where they overlap is the location of the GPS receiver. This method is triangulation. For those familiar with land navigation techniques, it is similar to intersection or resection. The GPS only needs three satellites to tell where you are on the Earth’s surface, but a fourth is needed for it to determine your elevation above the Earth’s surface. Once the device knows your location, it can then use that information to display the information provided by the app you are using—perhaps the distance to your favorite outdoor store, directions to the nearest service station that sells diesel fuel or how much farther you need to walk to get to your bug-out location. If an app uses location information, it uses the GPS circuit in your smartphone.


STAND-ALONE GPS UNITS VS. SMARTPHONE GPS APPS You have probably seen at least one of the many stand-alone GPS units on the market. The functions they provide have increased in the past several years, but they still focus on the basic services of telling you where you are, how to get from point A to point B and how far you have to go to get there. Some also have a map function that overlays that information on a topographic map. They are simple and straightforward in their design, although it might take awhile for some models to get used to where your favorite features are in the menu structure. With a smartphone, on- and off-road navigation are just two of many services your smartphone provides. The off-road, or backcountry, navigation apps provide all the features you find in the stand-alone units—but with better power management, easier-to-understand user interfaces and more storage, in most cases, for waypoints and tracks.

WAYS TO SAVE POWER You can have your GPS app or device

WHAT THEY CAN DO

running all the time. This approach lets you

The interface for smartphone-based backcountry navigation apps is based on a map, either a topographic map, an aerial photograph or satellite image. Information the end user adds to an app’s database is laid on top of the map. These include things such as waypoints, tracks of where you walked or drove, and routes that link a series of waypoints. Additional information can also be overlaid on the map showing things such as hunting area boundaries, landowner information, terrain shading and historical information. Many apps have the ability to download a number of map sections, or “tiles,” to the smartphone so they can be viewed in areas where you don’t have any signal and can’t be pulled off the Internet. This feature proved to be quite valuable last year when my wife and I visited her sister in the middle of Pennsylvania. We lost cell signal, and Google Maps went dead. The map tiles I had downloaded with Backcountry Navigator provided a topographic map that we followed as we went from turn to turn on the map until we got to the waypoint I had made at home that showed her sister’s home. If you have ever lost a signal while hiking or hunting in the backcountry, you can appreciate the value of this feature.

build a track of where you have walked and also keeps it immediately ready for you to see where you are. However, it will burn through battery power very quickly that way. A better way, especially if you can see how to get from where you are to your next checkpoint, is to only have it on when you need it. You can still turn it on to see where you are as you move from Point A to Point B or to look at the topographic map and set a waypoint when you get to something interesting. You just need to power it up again. This extends the charge of your battery. Smartphones are great for this method, because you don’t actually have to turn it off and on if you don’t want to. You can turn off location tracking and put your phone in airplane mode if desired, saving the startup and shutdown time when you need to use it.

‹ An array, or constellation, of 32 GPS satellites constantly orbits the Earth to ensure that there will always be at least three overhead within a few minutes of your GPS reaching out to lock onto them.

THE GPS ONLY NEEDS THREE SATELLITES TO TELL WHERE YOU ARE ON THE EARTH’S SURFACE, BUT A FOURTH IS NEEDED FOR IT TO DETERMINE YOUR ELEVATION ABOVE THE EARTH’S SURFACE.

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FULL-FEATURED APPS The most popular GPS apps are also the ones with the most features and map sources. They provide a navigation tool kit with enough depth and breadth to accomplish anything you could do with a map, compass and pen; they also augment that capability with their electronic wizardry that gives you instant information on location, speed, elevation and time to your next waypoint. In addition, they have the ability, in most cases, to download their data to a personal computer and to import and export map data files.

THE MOST POPULAR GPS APPS ARE ALSO THE ONES WITH THE MOST FEATURES AND MAP SOURCES.

USEFUL ACCESSORIES As with any modern-day electronics, you will probably want to get some accessories. Here are some of the proven makers of protective

› The Backcountry Navigator app on a Samsung smartphone (Photo: Larry Schwartz)

BACKCOUNTRY NAVIGATOR Backcountry Navigator is considered by many (myself included) to be the “grandfather” of all the off-road navigation tools out there for smartphones. It does everything described, has been on the market as long as or longer than its competitors, and its developer is always working on ways to improve it, based on user feedback. It also lets you download your data to your personal computer, and it imports and exports GPX data files. One of the things it does that none of its competitors does is interface with Android watches. App

BackCountry Navigator Pro

Price

$11.99

Platform

Android (iOS coming in 2018)

Supported grid system: latitude/longitude

Yes

Supported grid system: MGRS

Yes

Supported grid system: UTM

Yes

Works without phone signal

Yes

Sets and edits waypoints

Yes

Records tracks

Yes

GoalZero (888) 794-6250 www.GoalZero.com

Defines and follows a route

Yes

Downloads to phone topo maps

Yes

Mophie (Integrates waterproof and shockproof cases with a rechargeable battery pack) (888) 866-7443 http://www.Mophie.com

and satellite imagery

cases and rechargeable power supplies to help you and your smartphone when you are on the go.

Waterproof and Protective Cases Catalyst www.CatalystLifestyle.com Lifeproof (888) 533-0735 www.Lifeproof.com OtterBox (855) 688-7269 www.OtterBox.com

Solar Power Chargers Anker (800) 988-7973 www.Anker.com

RAVPower www.RAVpower.com

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Tags photos with GPS data

Yes

Lets you create your own maps

Yes

Will work offline and uploads to phone

Yes


GAIA GPS

POLARIS GPS

Gaia GPS is another very popular application, sharing the first or second spot in a popularity contest with Backcountry Navigator. Gaia GPS is a full-featured app and can import and export GPX files. You can download data to your personal computer for editing or backup. One of its unique features is its ability to sync its data with other devices and share information via social media.

Polaris GPS Navigation has the same features as the others in this group, but the user interface is built on a graphic that serves as its top-level menu. Tap on one of the icons to get to where you want to go. It also has GPS diagnostics and a number of interesting map download options. Additionally, it is the only app that interfaces with Google Maps, so you can get driving instructions, as well.

App

Gaia GPS

Price

$19.99

Platform

App

Polaris GPS Navigation

Android/iOS

Price

Free

Supported grid system: latitude/longitude

Yes

Platform

Android

Supported grid system: MGRS

Yes

Supported grid system: latitude/longitude

Yes

Supported grid system: UTM

Yes

Supported grid system: MGRS

Yes

Works without phone signal

Yes

Supported grid system: UTM

Yes

Sets and edits waypoints

Yes

Works without phone signal

Yes

Records tracks

Yes

Sets and edits waypoints

Yes

Defines and follows a route

Yes

Records tracks

Yes

Downloads to phone topo maps and satellite imagery

Yes

Defines and follows a route

Yes

Yes

Downloads to phone topo maps and satellite imagery

Yes

Tags photos with GPS data Lets you create your own maps

Yes

Tags photos with GPS data

Yes

Will work offline and uploads to phone

Yes

cre t your own maps Lets you create

Y Yes

of Will work offline and uploads to phone

Yes

› The Gaia GPS app is one of the most popular GPS apps available for smartphones. (Photo: Larry Schwartz)

› The menu for the Polaris GPS Navigation app is easy to read and navigate. (Photo: Larry Schwartz)

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STRIPPED-DOWN MILITARY-ORIENTED APPS There are also a number of off-road navigation apps that are designed with military personnel in mind. These apps don’t have all the additional bells and whistles the full-function apps have, but they give you everything you need to navigate from point Alpha to point Bravo. So, if you like clean and simple, these might be the apps for you.

LAND NAV ASSISTANT Land Nav Assistant is a very simple interface—once you figure it out. You use the map to specify where your waypoints are. Then, use the “locations” screen to see the direction (azimuth) from your current location to that waypoint. Use the compass to follow that azimuth to the waypoint. App

Land Nav Assistant

Price

$1.99

Platform

Android/iOS

Supported grid system: latitude/longitude

Yes

Supported grid system: MGRS

Yes

Supported grid system: UTM

No

Works without phone signal

Yes

Sets and edits waypoints

Yes

Records tracks

No

Defines and follows a route

Yes

Downloads to phone topo maps and satellite imagery

No

Tags photos with GPS data

No

Lets you create your own maps

No

wo offline and uploads to phone Will work

No

TACTICAL NAV The first of our lean-andmean apps with a tactical orientation, Tactical NAV supports latitude/longitude and the military grid reference system (MGRS) coordinate systems, but not UTM, as the full-featured apps do. UTM isn’t used as much in military applications, so there isn’t a need for it. Tactical NAV also adds GPS data to photographs, will download maps and satellite imagery, and lets you set and edit waypoints. Like all of the apps covered here, it does not need Internet connections if you have already downloaded the maps you need.

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App

Tactical NAV

Price

Free

Platform

Android/iOS

Supported grid system: latitude/longitude

Yes

Supported grid system: MGRS

Yes

Supported grid system: UTM

No

Works without phone signal

Yes

Sets and edits waypoints

Yes

Records tracks

No

Defines and follows a route

No

Downloads to phone topo maps and satellite imagery

Yes

Tags photos with GPS data

Yes

Lets you create your own maps

No

Will work offline and uploads to phone

No

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› The Land Nav Assistant app lets you use the map to specify where your waypoints are and then use the “locations” screen to identify the direction from your current location to those waypoints. (Photo: Larry Schwartz)


› The GPS app from MilGPS enables you to find your location and determine direction and distance without a connection to the Internet. (Photo: Larry Schwartz)

MILGPS MilGPS is the only iOS-only application in this survey. It supports all three grid systems with its addition of UTM. It lets you set and edit waypoints and provides the direction and distance information to you as you use its compass to move to whatever waypoint you need to reach. Unlike the other apps that use a variety of mapping sources, MilGPS only uses the maps available from Google Maps and Apple Maps. It must have an Internet connection to display any maps, but any functionality not related to maps, such as finding your location and determining direction and distance, should still work without a connection to the Internet.

OFF-ROAD NAVIGATION IN URBAN ENVIRONMENTS If you have ever been to, or seen, the aftermath of a hurricane or earthquake, you know that the landscape is totally changed. What used to be a block with a dozen houses on it can be wiped flat by a hurricane. An earthquake can turn a city block where the buildings are all unique and distinctive into a hill of twisted steel and chunks of broken concrete. Having a topographic map application can help you find specific houses and businesses. It can also help you find subway station entrances and other features that will help you navigate among the rubble.

App

MilGPS

Price

$9.99

Platform

iOS

Supported grid system: latitude/longitude

Yes

Supported grid system: MGRS

Yes

Supported grid system: UTM

Yes

Works without phone signal

Yes

If you haven’t gotten a navigation app for your smartphone for when you go off road on foot or in a vehicle, there’s nothing holding you back from adding that capability to your survival and preparedness bag of tricks. They are available on both Android and iPhone platforms. There is at least one that will work for you and is free. With downloadable maps, you don’t need to have a signal for most of them to work, because they only depend on the GPS receiver, rather than the Internet. ASG

Sets and edits waypoints

Yes

S O U R C E S

Records tracks

No

Backcountry Navigator http://BackcountryNavigator.com

Defines and follows a route

No

Gaia GPS www.GaiaGPS.com

Downloads to phone topo maps and satellite imagery

No

Tags photos with GPS data

Yes

Lets you create your own maps

No

Will work offline and uploads to phone

No

MilGPS https://CascodeLabs.com Polaris GPS Navigation http://Polaris-Navigation-System.soft112.com Tactical NAV http://TacticalNAV.com

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MY KINGDOM FOR A HORSE! THESE VERSATILE EQUINES COULD BE THE KEY TO YOUR SURVIVAL.

T

he world is changing, and we need to be prepared for those changes. More and more people are living life with a “what if … ” frame of mind. Many people are now growing at least some of their own food and raising some livestock. In my neck of the woods, it is very common to hear the sounds of rototillers starting up as soon as the ground can be worked. While this is all well and good, what will people do if there

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comes a time when we have no fuel to run our tillers, mowers, chainsaws and other motorized equipment? To answer that question, we don’t need to look any farther back than about 200 years ago to a time when there were no internal combustion engines. Back then, our ancestors relied on horses and oxen to get work done. This article will examine the historic role horses and ponies have played in human survival—specifically the group known as “heritage” breeds.

© GETTY IMAGES

BY DANA BENNER


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THESE ANIMALS DON’T USE GAS, NEED OIL CHANGES OR MECHANICAL KNOWHOW, OR RUN ON COMPUTERS—ALTHOUGH THEY DO NEED CARE, LOVE AND RESPECT. IF YOU GIVE THEM THAT, YOU’LL HAVE A MUCH BETTER CHANCE OF BECOMING SELF-RELIANT IN A CHALLENGING, NEW WORLD.

“HERITAGE” AND “LANDRACE” BREEDS Throughout this article, you will see the terms, “heritage” and “landrace,” used fairly often. So, just what do these terms mean, and what makes them so special? According to The Livestock Conservancy, heritage breeds are simply “ … traditional breeds of animals that were raised by our forefathers.” These are the animals that were being used prior to the practice of industrial agriculture—in other words, before horses and other animals began being manipulated by human-induced cross-breeding in an effort to get larger, stronger or smaller animals and before we bred different animals just to get “the right look and color.” Most of the heritage breeds have superior natural attributes, such as the ability to forage, superior fertility, and resistance to disease and parasites that makes them better prepared for survival. Landrace breeds are also heritage breeds, but there is a difference. By definition, a landrace breed is a domestic animal that has naturally developed over time, adapting to the natural and cultural environment of a particular area. These animals, just by their location, have also been isolated from other populations of the same species. This means that they have built up a genetic pool uniquely their own. The Newfoundland pony is a great example of a landrace breed.

WHY THESE ANIMALS ARE SPECIAL While any horse or pony is capable of pulling a plow or a sleigh, some are better suited to this work than others. Many of the heritage breeds evolved for work—and that is exactly what they did for our ancestors. There are some that worked better as saddle horses than plow horses, but the common link is work. In a survival situation, you’ll want a horse that can do the work you need done to keep you alive. Heritage breeds tend to be expert foragers and are fully capable of finding food on their own, even during the winter. A long coat of hair keeps them warm, so they can survive with limited shelter. They are naturally disease- and pest-resistant, so there are fewer, if any, veterinarian bills. This is all important in a survival situation: If there is a need to go back to the old ways, vets will be few and far between; and horses, like people, will need to be able to look out for themselves. ‹ Far left: An American Cream horse exhibits its docile nature—one of the numerous positive attributes for which the breed is known.

‹ Left: This horse is a good example of a strong, healthy Morgan at the University of Vermont.

‹ Far left, bottom: Newfoundland ponies are very friendly. This one walked right up to the camera as the author took this photo.

Unfortunately, the very traits that make the heritage breeds so desirable were also the reason for their decline—in some cases, to extinction. Due to extensive cross-breeding practices by people who wanted animals that were bigger, faster, prettier and had other attributes they valued, pure strains of the heritage breeds began to disappear. Unfortunately, with them went many of the good traits that we no longer see, such as their higher fertility rates and disease-resistance. Many modern horse and pony breeds are not disease-resistant, have lost the ability to forage, and some might have a greater incidence of complications during the birthing process.

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BEFORE YOU BUY Before you rush out and pay good, hardearned money on a horse, you need to realize what you are getting yourself into. Horses are living things, and they need care—even the heritage breeds. Owning an endangered breed is not for everyone, because there is a great deal of responsibility beyond day-to-day care. Owning a horse (or any animal) is a lifelong commitment, so be sure you are in it for the long haul and that you have enough space and time to devote to the ‹ Kerrie Beckett, a director of the American Cream Draft Horse Association, is shown with an American Cream horse. (Photo: Kerrie Beckett)

animal. If you want your horse to be there when you need it, you have to be there for it now. Consider going to breed rescue sanctuaries, because they are experts on the breed and constantly work to find homes for some really great horses and ponies. While Villi Poni never sells its ponies, this organization will allow the right person to foster and/or adopt out a pony. With a little love, time and respect, you can have a great animal that can help get you through the rough times ahead.

‹ The University of Vermont’s “dorm” for Morgan horses on its farm

MY TOP-THREE HERITAGE EQUINES While I love all horses and ponies, draft horses are my favorites (and not just because they pull a beer wagon!). However, If I found myself in a survival situation for which there was a need for a horse or pony, I wouldn’t go with the large draft breeds—I would want a good, all-around horse. It would need to be able to pull stumps and logs out of the woods; pull a sleigh in the winter and a wagon the rest of the year; and it would need to be rideable. Basically, this horse would need to be as versatile as I am and able to do everything my truck does for me now. The top two horses and pony that I would want if the need ever comes about are all breeds that developed here, in North America: the American Cream horse, Morgan horse, and the Newfoundland pony. All three are considered “working” horses, with the American Cream being a smallish draft horse. Best yet, these three have all the things you should

MANY MODERN HORSE AND PONY BREEDS ARE NOT DISEASERESISTANT, HAVE LOST THE ABILITY TO FORAGE, AND SOME MIGHT HAVE A GREATER INCIDENCE OF COMPLICATIONS DURING THE BIRTHING PROCESS.

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look for in a horse that will be plowing fields and hauling firewood, not riding in a ring and jumping over standardized hurdles (although they can do that, as well). American Cream Horse: I traveled to Poland, Maine, and visited MerEquus Equine Rescue and Sanctuary. There, I spoke with Kerrie Beckett about the American Cream. There are currently eight American Creams under her care; five are at the sanctuary. This horse is the only draft horse developed in the United States that is still in existence.

WHILE ANY HORSE OR PONY IS CAPABLE OF PULLING A PLOW OR A SLEIGH, SOME ARE BETTER SUITED TO THIS WORK THAN OTHERS. ‹ Above: These American Cream horses are harnessed up and ready for a local parade. (Photo: Kerrie Beckett)

‹ Above: Newfoundland ponies exit the stables at the Villi Poni Farm in New Hampshire.

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The American Cream was once considered a color phase and not a breed, but DNA testing has proven otherwise. Based on its genetics, testing has determined that the American Cream is a “distinct and unique” animal. It is a medium-sized horse that weighs between 1,800 and 2,000 pounds. Its great strength makes it perfect for pulling stumps in the field, hauling logs out of the woods or plowing a field. It can also be ridden. According to Kerri, American Creams are very docile and calm. They are adaptable to different areas, and they love to work and stay active—a sign of great intelligence. All of this makes them perfect for small farms. According to The Livestock Conservancy, the American Cream horse population is considered to be at the “critical” level, which is the most serious classification of concern for extinction … all the more reason to save this animal. The Morgan Horse: The Morgan horse is probably one of the most versatile breeds. Early American families needed their horses to be able to perform a variety of functions: strong enough for working in the fields and also quick harness and riding horses. It was developed in Vermont (because I am a New Englander, it has always been one of my favorites). The natural qualities of this horse made it a desirable starting point for many other breeds, such as the Quarter horse, American Walker, American Saddlebred horse and others. Its qualities also made it a choice for cavalry mounts during the American Civil War.


As with many other horse breeds, the very qualities that made it desirable ultimately became its undoing. After the Civil War, there was a push for larger draft breeds and saddle breeds. Morgan stallions were bred to all sorts of mares, and Morgan mares were often bred to larger draft horses with the goal of producing specific horses that had the desirable qualities of the Morgan. Small pockets of “original” Morgans still exist in small numbers, mainly in western Vermont. Today, the University of Vermont still has a Morgan breeding program based on those few original animals. Although Morgan numbers are increasing, they are still considered critically endangered simply because there are so few “pure” blood strains left. The original Morgan horse is a medium-sized animal made to work and weighing between 800 and 1,000 pounds. It is strong, docile and loves to stay active. These horses are known for their large chest and muscled legs. Deep in the Vermont woods, Morgans were known to “out-walk, -trot or -pull any horse.” These horses were used for every purpose you can think of. Today, there are two separate lines of Morgan horses: Foundation and Non-Foundation. Foundation horses have little to no non-Morgan blood. Non-Foundation horses have much higher percentages of non-Morgan blood. If you are looking for a good, all-around horse to work on the homestead, select a horse from the Foundation line. If you are looking for a beautiful show horse, go with the Non-Foundation line. The Newfoundland Pony: Some 400 years ago, the English colonized the Canadian Maritime Provence of Newfoundland. The people who call this area home are a tough lot—and so are their animals. They have to be able to survive the brutal conditions of the North Atlantic coast. The original settlers brought with them animals common in the British Isles, including ponies. Some of these ponies were Welsh Mountain, Scottish Galloway and Highland. When not in use, the ponies would be turned loose in a common pasture, where they more or less fended for themselves until they were needed again. When not working, the ponies did what ponies do, thus beginning the genetic line that became the Newfoundland pony. Over time, the ponies, like the people they lived with, grew hardier and developed traits that would allow them to survive through the harsh conditions. Those that could not adapt died. Surviving ponies developed strong legs and large hooves for traveling over the rocky terrain. They developed resistance to many diseases, and they could eat almost anything that resembled a plant. In other words, they were tough. And this was all done through natural selection. Today, the Newfoundland pony is also on the verge of extinction. There are fewer than 400 “pure” Newfoundland ponies worldwide, with 40 of them being in the United States. Many of these animals are gelded males, as well as mares past the breeding stage. It is estimated that there are only about 200 breeding animals, but the information is unclear about how many of these are “pure” Newfoundland ponies. Like many other equine breeds, the Newfoundland pony began to be bred with other ponies and even to small horses to take advantage of their desirable qualities. This, in turn, drove down the numbers of the original line. Still others were sent to the slaughter houses in Quebec, where their meat was sold to Europeans. I recently paid a visit to Villi Poni Farm, located in Jaffery, New Hampshire, where I learned more about these animals. Villi Poni is a sanctuary dedicated to the conservation of the Newfoundland pony—not as show or ring animals, but as they were meant to be: a working companion to their human counterparts.

HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT ANIMAL › Below: A young Newfoundland pony grazes peacefully at Villi Poni Farm.

› Bottom: A Newfoundland pony—one of only about 400 that remain—that lives at Villi Poni Farm in Jaffrey, New Hampshire

Some words of advice: Don’t wait until the SHTF to decide whether a horse or pony is for you. If you do, they might not be available. Also keep in mind that a horse or pony is not the answer for everyone. It takes a special type of person to care for an animal, even an animal that can basically take care of itself. Be sure the breed is right for your area and the work you need the animal to perform, whether or not it is a heritage breed. My top three might not be what you are looking for. Start by learning about the breeds, especially those best suited to your area. Check out The Livestock Conservancy (www.LivestockConservancy.org) and find out the basics of the heritage breeds available. Emily Chetkowski also suggested contacting the people at Equus Survival Trust (www.Equus-Survival-Trust.org). Then, contact your state’s department of agriculture, state university and other sources to help you decide the best horse or pony breed for you.

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S O U R C E S American Cream Draft Horse Association www.ACDHA.org

› An American Cream horse pulls a cart through a few inches of snow. (Photo: Kerrie Beckett)

American Morgan Horse Association (802) 985-4944 www.MorganHorse.com MerEquus Equine Rescue and Sanctuary www.MerEquusEquine.org Newfoundland Pony Society www.NewfoundlandPony.com The Livestock Conservancy (919) 542-5704 www.LivestockConservancy.org University of Vermont Morgan Horse Farm www.UVM.edu Villi Poni Farm www.NewfoundlandPonies.org

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THERE ARE FEWER THAN 400 “PURE” NEWFOUNDLAND PONIES WORLDWIDE, WITH 40 OF THEM BEING IN THE UNITED STATES. Emily Chetkowski, executive director of Villi Poni Farm, introduced me to these wonderful, intelligent and friendly animals. Of the 40 ponies found in the United States, 15 of them fall under the care of Villi Poni. These ponies can do everything from being ridden to pulling a plow. They are not large, only 400 to 700 pounds, but they are strong. They are cold hardy and hardworking, and Emily told me they like to work. In the aftermath of a great catastrophe that sends our technology back 200 years, what would we do? Would we survive without the things that make our lives easier and food-gathering more efficient? We could, if we spend time now to re-learn the old, traditional ways of doing things. In this scenario, working with the help of strong, adaptable horses and ponies is a solid start. These animals don’t use gas, need oil changes or mechanical knowhow, or run on computers— although they do need care, love and respect. If you give them that, you’ll have a much better chance of becoming self-reliant in a challenging, new world. ASG


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GO GREEN AND SAVE SOME CASH HOW TO POWER YOUR DIESEL VEHICLE WITH USED COOKING OIL TEXT AND PHOTOS BY CHRISTOPHER NYERGES

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W

BIODIESEL

hen we’re stuck on the freeway with all the cars going 5 mph (or not moving at all), we might start to wonder about the wonders of our modern life. We spend tens of thousands of dollars to purchase a vehicle, we follow that with hundreds more each year for its upkeep and maintenance, and then, we lay out even more cash every week for the fuel. No wonder so many of us have begun to wonder: What am I doing this for? Is this worth it? Are there alternatives to vehicles and high fuel costs? Certainly, walking and bicycles are two methods you could use to get away from the automobile and its overhead, while improving your health at the same time. However, if you can’t abandon your internal combustion engine, there is a way to reduce what it costs to run it. One way to cut down fuel costs—or to be prepared in the event of fuel shortages—is to make your own fuel.

If you have a vehicle with a diesel engine, you might consider making your own fuel, either to save money or to be a more ecological driver. Alternatively, biodiesel production appeals to you because you can control the production of this critical asset in your own backyard if the gas stations shut down. According to some estimates, there are currently about 250,000 cars on America’s roads that are powered by vegetable oil fuel. Is this practical? Can anyone do it? To find out, I spoke with Gabriel Hines of La Crescenta, California, who has been making his own biofuel for years. Hines is one of the new pioneers in the quiet revolution of doing more with less and becoming self-reliant. Hines taught himself how to make fuel for his diesel vehicle, and he has driven it more than 10,000 miles using vegetable oil that he processed—oil that would have been discarded by a local family-run restaurant. Hines initially got interested in making his own fuel because he wanted to maximize his fuel efficiency. He had heard many people talking about how economical it was to do this. He already had a diesel-powered Volkswagen Rabbit pickup, which got 50 miles per gallon. Plus, he liked the idea that he could safely store his homemade fuel in his yard and that it was much safer than storing diesel. The average flashpoint of diesel fuels is 166 degrees (F), whereas the flash point of canola oil is 619 degrees (F).

› Hines checks the temperature of the used cooking oil. He wants it at 140 degrees (F).

ACCORDING TO SOME ESTIMATES, THERE ARE CURRENTLY ABOUT 250,000 CARS ON AMERICA’S ROADS THAT ARE POWERED BY VEGETABLE OIL FUEL. 90

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‹ Next, the methanol and lye need to be measured and carefully mixed.

ONE WAY TO CUT DOWN FUEL COSTS—OR TO BE PREPARED IN THE EVENT OF FUEL SHORTAGES—IS TO MAKE YOUR OWN FUEL.

BIOFUEL SUPPLIES These are the tools described in the article. Most of these items are available at any homeimprovement or building supply store or where indicated. • Used vegetable oil (sourced from a local restaurant) • Large aluminum cooking pot • Turkey fryer and propane tank • Cooking thermometer • Digital pH checker and test strips (AquaCheck is available at pool supply stores) • Lye crystals • Methanol (some gas stations sell this) • Face mask, heat-resistant and chemical-resistant gloves, eye protection • Several large, clean plastic buckets • Drill with paint mixer attachment for 5-gallon buckets ‹ Hines measures out the lye based on the reference chart he created.

• Digital scale (postal type is fine)

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‹ The methanol and lye are mixed in a clean, 5-gallon bucket.

› Below: Hines carefully pours the heated oil into the bucket with the lye/ methanol mix.

When he decided to try making his own fuel, Hines went online and spent about 10 hours studying the details of this process. Most of his research was done at www.JourneytoForever.org, a site operated by Mike Pelliel. He then went to a local restaurant, told the owners what he was intending to do. They gave him 5 gallons of their used vegetable oil. “The first time I tried this was the hardest,” Hines said, “because I was still learning about it. But I did it right the first time and used the fuel in my car.” However, the second batch he made was too gelatinous, so he didn’t use it in his car. He researched what he might have done wrong and discovered that he had added too much lye in the process.

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‹ Left: The heated vegetable oil is ready to be poured into the lye/ methanol mix.


FIVE WAYS TO USE VEGETABLE OIL IN A DIESEL VEHICLE 1. Pour pure oil directly into the diesel vehicle, with no processing of the oil and no changes to the engine. Perhaps best left for use in emergencies, this is not a common method for several reasons, including that it is not economical. Currently, new peanut oil is more than three times as costly as diesel fuel. Also, although the pure oil would not likely damage the vehicle, it will take longer for the glow plugs to heat the fuel, and it may take five times as long to get the vehicle started. 2. Add a separate tank for diesel and use the main tank for pure, strained vegetable oil (typically, old, used cooking oil). This method requires some modifications to the vehicle and fuel lines in order to work well. Start the car and warm the engine up with diesel fuel. Then, switch over to run the vehicle on the vegetable oil fuel. Before you shut off the engine, switch back to the diesel so that the fuel lines have diesel in them to make the next start easier. This is a common method, and there are books and workshops on how to do it. Several of the people I spoke to liked the Biodiesel Homebrew Guidebook by Girl Mark. There are also mechanics who specialize in making this adjustment to a diesel vehicle. 3. You can buy the processed vegetable oil, called “biodiesel,” either pure or mixed in varying degrees with diesel. As more and more people are aware

of biodiesel, this is an increasing option as some gas stations start to sell it. Many people are interested in the idea of supporting the production of a home-grown fuel but do not have the time or the inclination to do it themselves. 4. You can process the used vegetable oil yourself, as described above. This fourth method is referred to as “transesterification” of the oil. You are taking the sugars and starches out of the used vegetable oil so it will not harm or clog any parts of the diesel engine. 5. You can mix diesel fuel from the gas station with strained vegetable oil in a ratio of approximately 50/50 with no modification required on the engine. This means you are cutting your fuel cost in half; and you could always go back to pure diesel if you had to. Hines used the fourth method, driving more than 10,000 miles with his home-made biodiesel. While a slight change in timing is recommended by an online site that advises people on using biodiesel, Hines found that his car ran fine, and he never made any adjustments. (Editor’s note: We highly recommend that you fully investigate the compatibility of your diesel engine with the use of processed biofuels before attempting this project on your vehicle.)

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‹ Now, Hines blends the contents with a drill for about 45 minutes. When that’s done, he covers the bucket and sets it aside for at least eight hours.

He corrected his procedure and then standardized the way he makes the fuel so that all the proportions are figured according to his routine of beginning with 5 gallons of used vegetable cooking oil. Since then, he has not had any problems with his procedure and has made about 200 batches of biodiesel.

HOW IT IS DONE First, Hines goes to a local restaurant and gets at least 5 gallons of the used vegetable oil they discard. He has never had to pay for it. He notes that the oil from “mom and pop” restaurants is a better quality than the oil discarded from the fast-food chains, because the fast food chains use their oil much longer. The unstrained oil is poured into an aluminum cooking pot and heated on a commercial turkey fryer (he bought the turkey fryer at Home Depot, but it can also be found at Lowes and other large building supply stores). It is powered by a propane tank, which costs about $20 for each refill. He heats the oil to 140 degrees (F). The ideal temperature is actually between 120 and 130 degrees. But in the process of doing each step, Hines notes that the oil will cool slightly and will end up being within the ideal temperature range when he is ready to proceed.

‹ After eight hours, a little bit of residue is seen at the top of the bucket, but it is easily skimmed off before use.

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… THE OIL FROM “MOM AND POP” RESTAURANTS IS A BETTER QUALITY THAN THE OIL DISCARDED FROM THE FAST-FOOD CHAINS, BECAUSE THE FAST FOOD CHAINS USE THEIR OIL MUCH LONGER.


He then checks the pH of the oil by using a pool supply digital pH-checker called AquaCheck, available at pool supply stores. The pH level determines how much lye he adds in the next step. The finished biodiesel should have a pH level of between 8 and 9 (8.3 is ideal). When I observed Hines making a batch, the unprocessed waste oil from the restaurant had a pH of 6.8. The next step is to mix lye with methanol in a clean bucket. The amount of lye to be added is determined by the oil’s beginning pH. The amount of methanol is easier to figure: It is 20 percent of the volume. Thus, for the 5-gallon expected total, Hines poured 1 gallon of methanol into a separate bucket. To determine how much lye to measure, Hines consults the chart he devised. His chart is based on a 5-gallon standard batch size. Thus, based on his oil’s pH of 6.8, he needed to add 106 grams of lye to adjust the pH to the desired 8.3. The lye is carefully measured out into a small container and then weighed on a digital postal scale. For his 5-gallon batches, which yield 4 usable gallons of fuel, Hines considers his chart to be quite simple, and its use has not resulted in any problems. As you’ll see, he adjusts the lye by about 6 grams for each .1 pH value change. “This should give a good idea and a usual range of how much lye is needed per 5-gallon batch,” he explained. Here is Hines’ reference chart for adding lye to a 5-gallon batch of unprocessed used vegetable oil to adjust the pH to 8.3: Beginning pH Level

Amount of Lye to Add (grams)

6.5

125

6.6

119

6.7

113

6.8

106

6.9

100

7.0

94

7.1

88

(Note: Hines always wears protective gloves and a face mask, because the lye is very caustic, so any splashing will cause a burn. Safety-rated eye protection is also recommended for use during the production process.) The lye is then carefully poured into the bucket that contains the methanol. Then, using a paint mixer attachment on the end of power drill, he blends the lye into the methanol for about five minutes or until all the lye is dissolved. Hines has done this so often that he pointed out a slight change in color from clear to slightly

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brown when the mix is done. He also noted a unique odor, which is from the reaction between the lye and methanol. He then double-checks the temperature of the heated vegetable oil and slowly and carefully pours it into the plastic bucket with the methanol-lye mix. The oil is poured into the bucket until the oil level comes up to his 5-gallon mark on the inside of the bucket. Hines then begins to combine the mixture using his drill. He works the bottom of the bucket for about five minutes and then he puts a lid with a hole in its center on the bucket so he can continue the process while the bucket is covered. This final mixing needs to be done for 30 to 45 minutes.

READY TO GO

› The unusable residue at the bottom of the bucket can be used for other self-reliance projects.

› The vehicle runs on Hines’ recycled vegetable oil fuel.

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Once this is done, the bucket is set aside for at least eight hours. We opened up a batch that had already sat for eight hours. There was a very small amount of residue on the top that was easily skimmed off. Hines carefully poured off the now-finished biodiesel into a separate clean bucket. Out of the original 5 gallons, slightly more than 4 gallons of usable fuel were produced. As he slowly poured, he was careful not to mix any of the residue that settled into a gel at the bottom of the first bucket. It was mostly a semi-solid mass, with a soapy texture. (That gel could be used in soap- or fire-making self-reliance projects. Hines usually returns this residue to the restaurant that it came from and they discard it.) Then, with a big smile, Hines held up his final product—ready to be poured into the tank of any diesel vehicle. ASG


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BLASTPROOF BLADES HALF-LIFE KNIVESâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;BLEEDING-EDGE TECH WITH TANK-LIKE BUILD QUALITY BY GARRETT LUCAS

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S

omewhere deep inside every prepper there’s a question about what the world would be like during the end of days. Imagining an apocalyptic wasteland, replete with hordes of biker zombies, is often the conjured storyline, but it’s doubtful that times after a catastrophic event would be quite that zany—especially the zombie part. However, should things go sideways in full-tilt boogie fashion, we would definitely want robust tools on hand to see us through the hard times that were to come. One company definitely fits the bill when it comes to overbuilding knives to make sure they stand up to the hardest tests and will outlast the user. That company is Half-Life Knives, owned by Mike Cleveland of Mustang, Oklahoma.

› The Tactical Survival model is 9.63 inches long, with a blade length of 5 inches.

Half-Life Knives has been in business for about four years. According to Cleveland, he was looking for something to do with his spare time and happened upon knifemaking; and he’s been doing it ever since. When asked about what aspects of knives he likes to focus on, Cleveland stated that he wants knives that exemplify strength and versatility. He also mentioned that he has an affinity for law enforcement officers and soldiers. He said there’s something about having his knives in the field, being used by different people to protect their own lives and the lives of people around them. In fact, he offers a 10 percent discount to LEOs and military personnel. When asked, he expanded on the fact that he not only targets first responders but also outdoors people who can find use for his knives in the bush. After speaking with Cleveland on the phone about the details of his company and knives, I arranged to review two of his products, and it wasn’t long before they were sitting on my doorstep. Both knives I received were built hell-for-stout, and I knew I was going to have a good time with them.

THE TACTICAL SURVIVAL KNIFE The first knife out of the box was Half-Life’s Tactical Survival Knife. It was an interesting mix of styles blended into one blade. To confirm the overbuilt nature of the knife: The thickness was .300 inch—thicker than a standard knife on the market today. However, Cleveland mentioned he wanted something that would last and that could deal with any circumstance. What gives the knife a different twist is its hollow-ground blade. At first glance, it looks like a flat grind, but if you inspect it closely, the hollow can be discerned. Cleveland pointed out that while he wanted the edge geometry of a good slicing knife, he still wanted a knife that was strong and durable. So, to this end, he removed very little material during the process of grinding the knife. Aside from the thickness of the steel and the light grind, Cleveland also decided to use CPM Rex M4 steel. CPM Rex M4 is currently a highly coveted steel, especially when it comes to knives. Because of its increased vanadium and chromium content, its wear resistance is extremely high, making it a superior steel for longer edge-holding capability. In addition, its impact resistance isn’t bad, but it’s not on the scale of A2 or CPM Rex M4 HC. I was impressed with the Tactical Survival Knife’s styling right out of the box: It has a substantial blade for a knife of this type, measuring 1.41 inches wide and 5 inches long. And, despite its compact profile, this survival knife weighs just 11.82 ounces. The blade has a stonewash finish with a normal knife tip, along with a swedge that runs up to the jimping on the

› The Half-Life Knives Sub-Hilt Fighter is a robust tool that will take care of you—come what may.

GIVEN THEIR ALL-PURPOSE DESIGNS, I ENJOYED AND WAS IMPRESSED BY THE SAMPLES FROM HALF-LIFE KNIVES. 100

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spine. The lines of the knife are clean, and the fit and finish of the knife are both professionally and artfully executed. The minimalist handle is very comfortable, and it has a large hole for a lanyard. The grip slabs of this knife are natural Micarta. (Cleveland pointed out that he works with any handle material available, including mammoth and exotic woods. However, for the type of hard-use knives he sent, he gave the nod to Micarta, G-10 and carbon fiber for better durability.)

› Above: The Sub-Hilt Fighter still turned out a good performance when chopping, despite its short, 6-inch blade.

A2 is used to punch and form other steels, so it has a definite advantage when one is looking for a knife that can stand up to real abuse. Although A2 doesn’t have the wear resistance of CPM Rex M4, it still takes a nice edge for a good while, and it is fairly easy to maintain.

THE SUB-HILT FIGHTER There’s big, and then there’s Kongsize. That’s exactly the description I would provide for the Sub-Hilt Fighter from Half-Life Knives. Weighing in at 1.52 pounds, it’s no lightweight, either. With its 1.96-inch width and 6-inch-long blade protruding from the beefy Micarta grip slabs, there’s no doubt this knife is about serious business. To underline that fact, the good folks at Half-Life knives decided to use A2 steel for the Sub-Hilt Fighter. Like D2 steel, A2 is known for its toughness. Toughness is the measure of how well a steel holds up to impact by resistance to cracking or chipping.

› Right: Going through commercialgrade rubber hose did not pose much of a challenge for the Tactical Survival Knife.

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Like the Tactical Survival Knife, the Sub-Hilt Fighter also sports natural canvas Micarta grip slabs, along with a large lanyard hole. It also bears a 4.35-inch swedge with two lightening holes to reduce weight. With a little imagination, the Sub-Hilt Fighter could be lashed to a pole to make a spear—albeit a spear with a very heavy blade. The Sub-Hilt Fighter has a tactical bent to it, but Cleveland did note that it was meant for use in the outdoors, as well, with chopping being a primary function. With no one willing to be poked and prodded by the hefty knife, I decided to focus my testing on outdoors tasks. It might not be the intended role for this knife, but it could certainly be pressed into that kind of service.

OUT IN THE FIELD The only way to get a feel for the knives was to put them to different uses. I come mainly from an outdoors background rather than a tactical one. That said, it should be noted that the Tactical Survival Knife is not a bushcraft knife; it is a survival knife. As such, it is intended to be a general-purpose tool that can handle various tasks instead of just one specific one.

SPECIFICATIONS TACTICAL SURVIVAL KNIFE OVERALL LENGTH:

9.63 INCHES

BLADE LENGTH:

5 INCHES

THICKNESS:

.300 INCH

WEIGHT:

11.82 OUNCES

GRIPS:

NATURAL MICARTA

STEEL:

CPM REX M4

GRIND:

HOLLOW

MSRP:

$750

SUB-HILT FIGHTER OVERALL LENGTH:

12 INCHES

BLADE LENGTH:

6 INCHES

THICKNESS:

.300 INCH

WEIGHT:

1.52 POUNDS

GRIPS:

NATURAL MICARTA

STEEL:

A2

GRIND:

HOLLOW

MSRP:

$685

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HALF-LIFE MUST BE DOING SOMETHING RIGHT, BECAUSE ITS WAITING LIST IS NOW A YEAR OUT.

› Bearing down on the spine did cause the teeth of the jimping to dig aggressively into the thumb.


The Tactical Survival Knife did a good job overall on bushcraft chores. I could use it for things such as making shelter and snare stakes and for shaving off tinder strips for a fire. Despite the hollow grind, the thickness kept it from making great feather sticks. But, given its all-purpose design, I could accomplish what I needed to do to set up a good camp.

One thing I did try out was striking a large ferro rod with the spine of the knife. I was able to get enough sparks this way to start a fire with a tinder tab and the tinder pile I built. However, because of the full-length swedge on the spine, I did not get a huge shower of sparks, so the “user’s mileage” might vary. Another test I did to check the Survival Knife’s

cutting ability was to start cutting pieces of a commercial-grade, 5/8-inch rubber hose. With the thickness of both the hose and the knife, slicing all the way through the rubber wasn’t in the cards. Even so, it was easy work to cut the hose with press-cuts with my hand on the spine and the hose against a solid surface. One thing I observed about both knives during

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‹ Like the Tactical Survival Knife, the Sub-Hilt Fighter sports a slightly hollow-ground blade.

‹ The grip of the Sub-Hilt Fighter is comfortable and provides a secure purchase for the user.

ALTHOUGH THE SUB-HILT FIGHTER HAS A TACTICAL BENT TO IT … IT WAS MEANT FOR USE IN THE OUTDOORS, AS WELL …

testing is how the jimping felt. When bearing down on either knife, the jimping felt very aggressive and bit into my thumb. The jimping is rather large, with a good amount of space between the teeth. The utility of this feature could be improved by simply decreasing the space between the teeth and by rounding off the edges a little bit. Despite its billing as a fighting knife, I also gave the Sub-Hilt Fighter a workout in the field. I used it to cut down a couple of trees and was surprised by how well it performed. Even though the blade was not long enough for a good amount of momentum, the weight of the blade helped it bite deeper into the wood than what one would guess. It took very little effort to chop down the small trees (not saplings). I also wanted to test the toughness of the A2 blade on the Sub-Hilt Fighter, so I put it through a test I hate to do with 99 percent of the knives I’ve used: I drove it into a treated 4x4 and then wiggled it side to side until it came free from the

S O U R C E Half-Life Knives (405) 627-6097 www.HalflifeKnives.BigCartel.com

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‹ This top view shows off the jimping of the Tactical Survival Knife, as well as its swedge.

wood. I repeated this process more than 50 times. There was no failure in the blade, and the tip stayed right in place.

THE DOPE Given their all-purpose designs, I enjoyed and was impressed by the two knife samples from Half-Life Knives. Both are extremely robust and will see you through all your trials and tribulations. That said, the knives are not inexpensive: The Tactical Survival Knife sells for $750, while the Sub-Hilt Fighter sells for $685. Both knives came with nicely fitted Kydex sheaths with large Tek-Lock fasteners attached for wearing on a belt or attaching to another piece of gear. Although Half-Life Knives offers a few standard knives, the vast majority of this company’s work is on custom jobs for customers and brand-new designs it comes up with on the fly. Half-Life must be doing something right, because its waiting list is now a year out. If you are in the market for a bad-ass knife with just a hint of apocalyptic styling for your next adventure, you’d be well served to check out Half-Life Knives. Whether you pick something out or design your own, you’re bound to be pleased. ASG


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DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT

YOUR EDC THE EVERYDAY-CARRY TOOLKIT THAT MIGHT SAVE YOUR LIFE BY JIM COBB

S

how of hands: How many of you remember the commercials with the tagline, “Don’t leave home without it”? EDC stands for “everyday carry” and is the survivalist’s version of the venerable American Express credit card. Simply put, it is the collection of gear and supplies the prudent prepper carries on their person every time they leave the house. While the actual load-outs will vary from person to person, there are some common categories for EDC gear that should be represented.

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Naturally, the EDC list will change, depending on the plan for the day. Your office/work EDC is probably going to be at least a little different from your day-hike EDC. The basic idea behind EDC is to carry a minimum amount of useful gear at all times. While a bag or pack could carry much of what we might think of as our primary gear, having certain items in our pockets or otherwise on our person ensures we’ll have what we’ll need in an emergency, even if we lose everything else.


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FLASHLIGHT Once you start carrying a flashlight among your EDC equipment, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to do so. Not only will it help when you’re changing a flat tire at 4:00 a.m. on the side of the freeway, you’ll be the hero of the office when the power goes out and you can help people find their way to and from the restrooms. Additionally, in a pinch, the flashlight can be used to dazzle the eyes of an aggressor, allowing you to escape trouble or deploy another tactic.

› Above: A flashlight is a simple but effective survival tool that can be used in a number of ways … each of which can save your life.

KNIFE A good knife is an essential EDC component. From opening packages to cutting cordage to slicing up an apple at lunch, for many of us, a knife is never far from our hands. The style of knife chosen for EDC will depend on many factors, of course. Those who work in an office setting will probably choose a smaller and slimmer model than, say, someone who works construction. In most cases, though, one doesn’t really need a massive, foot-long blade for EDC. In fact, a small folding knife will be sufficient for the vast majority of common daily chores.

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› Right: A knife is one of the most common and most practical EDC tools, and a good multi-tool is like having an entire toolbox on your belt or in your pocket.

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… HAVING CERTAIN ITEMS IN OUR POCKETS OR OTHERWISE ON OUR PERSON ENSURES WE’LL HAVE WHAT WE’LL NEED IN AN EMERGENCY, EVEN IF WE LOSE EVERYTHING ELSE. FIRE-MAKING While most of us probably don’t need to get a fire going every day, having some type of fire-making gear as part of the EDC kit is not only traditional but a good idea. This could be as simple as a disposable lighter. If that’s the route you choose, I’d recommend going with a name brand such as BIC, rather than one of the cheap, three-for-a-buck ones you’ll see at gas stations. The name-brand lighters will last far longer. Ferrocerium rods and strikers are popular EDC components—and for good reason. With a little practice, they work very well, and they aren’t subject to weather conditions. They’ll provide plenty of sparks, no matter how cold or wet it is outside.

‹ Fire will keep you warm, cook your food, dry you out, light up the night and is a tremendous morale-booster in a true crisis.

MULTI-TOOL Multi-tools have come a long way in the last couple of decades. You’ll find them in all shapes, sizes and configurations—from small keychain models with just a few tools to what seems like an entire mechanic’s tool chest in your hand. They are great for performing many different types of quick repairs at work, on the road and at home.

PEN AND NOTEPAD Jotting down where you parked, the name of a book you want to look up or a short shopping list; all of these and more are made a lot easier when you have a pen or pencil and some paper with you. To put an emergency spin on it: If your vehicle strands you on the side of the road and you decide to walk, leave a note on the driver’s seat as to who you are, where you’re headed and when you left. That will help searchers find you (or your body, should that eventuality arise). You can also use it to take down the description of a carjacker’s vehicle.

SELF-DEFENSE WEAPON For many, a self-defense weapon actually means a handgun. Some folks go a different route, perhaps due to legal restrictions or personal beliefs. No matter which way you lean, the decision to carry a weapon—and, if so, what that weapon should be—is a highly personal one. Be sure to seek out training in the proper use of any weapon you decide to carry.

‹ A flash drive is a very easy way to store full copies of important documents, photos and other vital information.

EMERGENCY SIGNALING If you’re trapped as the result of a disaster or you have lost your way in the wild, having the means to signal for help could be vital. While we often think of survival being a matter of stealth, such as when bugging out, the fact of the matter is that far more people have needed to call for help than have needed to slink away in the night.

DATA STORAGE During an emergency, as well as in its aftermath, having ready access to important documents and information can be vital for your survival. While hard copies are great, they can be bulky to carry around. Technology allows us to store incredible amounts of data in a very small space. Flash drives are easy to use and come in a wide range of styles. Don’t forget to store digital copies of treasured family photos along with your insurance policies and identification.

CASH They say that “cash is king,” and … they’re right. While many tend to rely upon credit and debit cards, there are still at least a few occasions for which cash will seal a deal. If you happen to stop at a rummage sale on your way home from work and find an incredible deal on an almost-new St. Croix fishing rod, you can safely bet they aren’t going to be taking Visa or MasterCard. More importantly, In an emergency evacuation, having cash on hand might make the difference between you or someone else getting that last available hotel room.

‹ Cash is king, and, in many situations, it will help you obtain needed supplies, food and water.

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› Top: The Adventurer II from Bark River Knives is an excellent option for a smaller fixedblade knife. (Photo: Jim Cobb)

› Left: The Ignitor from CRKT is a very affordable, well-built knife that will come in handy almost every day you carry it.

RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS Streamlight ProTac 1AAA Penlight: The ProTac 1AAA uses a single AAA battery (alkaline or lithium)—hence, the name. Just shy of 4 inches long, it fits perfectly in virtually any pocket. The dual-purpose clip allows the user to secure the light to a pocket or the brim of a cap without having to reverse the clip. On the highest of three settings, the ProTac 1AAA provides 115 lumens for 1.75 hours. The light is waterproof down to 1 meter for 30 minutes and is impact resistant to 2 meters. The anti-roll head will keep the light where you need it, too. MSRP: $48 www.Streamlight.com CRKT Ignitor: The CRKT Ignitor is an assisted-open folding knife. The thumb stud acts as a safety button, preventing the knife from being opened in any way until the button is depressed. The blade is then rotated upward to about 30 degrees, at which point the spring mechanism takes over and the blade fires open. The blade is a modified drop point made from 8Cr14MoV steel. The G10 scales keep the knife secure in your grip, no matter how wet your hands might be. It is available with or without a partially serrated edge. MSRP: $59.99 www.CRKT.com Bark River Knives Adventurer II: The Adventurer II is an excellent option for those looking to EDC a fixed blade rather than a folding knife. The blade runs 3.75 inches, which is large enough to tackle just about any common task without being so big it scares the folks around you. It is available in a wide range of handle choices, so it is easy to find one that is perfect for your needs. Crafted from CPM20CV steel, it will hold an edge for quite some time, even under daily use. MSRP: Starts at $187.47 www.KnivesShipFree.com

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‹ A good ferrocerium rod will be able to light hundreds of fires and will work in wet conditions. (Photo: Jim Cobb)

‹ The Bushcraft Necklace from Wazoo Survival Gear allows you to carry a reliable means of firemaking in a rather handsome and unassuming piece of rustic jewelry. (Photo: Jim Cobb)

‹ Bottom: The durable SOG PowerLock multi-tool packs a ton of uses into a smallish size. (Photo: Jim Cobb)

THE BASIC IDEA BEHIND EDC IS TO CARRY A MINIMUM AMOUNT OF USEFUL GEAR AT ALL TIMES. HRK 3/8 -inch Ferro Rod: There’s no reason gear can’t be both great looking and functional. Travis Kuhn at HRK Machining has developed several ferrocerium rods that are quite striking (no pun intended). For those unfamiliar with this fire-making tool, a ferrocerium rod is scraped with a sharp edge, such as the 90-degree spine of a knife or a shard of glass, and a shower of sparks will rain down on your tinder. Many ferro rods, such as this one, are sold with an included striker or scraper. Ferro rods will work in any weather or temperature, making them very handy fire-starting tools. MSRP: $50 https://FiddlebackOutpost.com Wazoo Bushcraft Necklace: Few people will look twice at this stylish necklace and realize it is actually a very functional survival tool. The two-piece pendant is actually a small ferro rod and striker. This is a great way to EDC a fire starter without adding bulk to your pockets. The leather cord is adjustable due to the double fisherman’s knot. Wazoo Survival Gear also has a Firecraft Necklace that replaces the leather cord with FireCord, a special type of paracord that contains an inner strand of easy-to-ignite tinder. MSRP: $24 www.WazooSurvivalGear.com SOG PowerLock: The SOG PowerLock is a robust and dependable multi-tool. At almost 10 ounces, it might be better suited for belt carry rather than stuffed into a pocket. However, the SOG proprietary Compound Leverage system it utilizes for the pliers and wire cutters almost doubles the power over competitors. Add in a partially serrated knife blade, a wood saw, screwdrivers and about a dozen other tools, and you have all you’ll need to perform expedient repairs in an emergency. MSRP: $114 www. SOGKnives.com

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UST StarFlash Floating Signal Mirror: The StarFlash signal mirror is smaller and a little thicker than a credit card and will fit into almost any wallet. The Lexan polycarbonate is highly resistant to breakage. A signal mirror works by reflecting sunlight at a target, such as a rescue plane. Hold the mirror in one hand and stretch the other hand out in front, making a V shape with the fingers of the outstretched hand. Use the hole in the mirror as a sight to aim the reflected light between your fingers and toward the target. Wiggle the mirror slightly up and down to make the light flash. MSRP: $11.99 www.USTBrands.com Fox 40 Micro Whistle: The Fox 40 Micro is the perfect whistle for a keychain or purse. It is small and flat but will blast out up to 110 dB of sound—sure to get the attention of anyone in the area. The pea-less design means you don’t have to worry about moisture freezing inside the whistle and rendering it useless. It is available in black, as well as nine bright colors, making it easy to spot in a hurry. MSRP: $7.49 www.Fox40Shop.com

› Above: The Dark Mjolnir packs quite a wallop when used properly in a self-defense situation. (Photo: Jim Cobb)

› Right: A whistle won’t give you a sore throat or cause you to lose your voice when you signal for help. (Photo: Fox 40)

Rite in the Rain Notepad: While a simple notebook or note cards might be sufficient in many cases, Rite in the Rain notebooks will withstand sweat, rain, snow and more. The company’s special all-weather paper has long been a favorite for military users, as well as those who work and play hard outdoors. A small spiral notebook will fit into a shirt or pants pocket without any discomfort and be ready when you need it. As a bonus, even though it is treated with a special process, the paper is fully recyclable. MSRP: $3.95 www.RiteintheRain.com Winkler Knives Tactical Pick: While you could tell people this is a great ice pick or some such nonsense, the truth of the matter is that this pick is designed to put a serious hurt on someone. The one-piece, carbon-steel construction tapers to a needle point that is made for penetration—nothing more. The leather wrap helps you retain a positive grip as you use the weapon. The Kydex sheath holds the weapon through friction and has several attachment points, allowing the user to lash it to a belt, pack or almost anything else. The overall length is 7.625 inches, and it is a slim 0.29 inch at its thickest point. MSRP: $75 www.BladeHQ.com

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Dark Mjolnir Self-Defense Keychain: For those looking for a self-defense weapon that doesn’t make a lot of noise, you could do far worse than this. It is sort of a combination of flail and slapjack and allows for quite a bit of power in a small package. Each keychain is handmade, and its finished length is 8 to 9 inches. The paracord is very tightly woven, providing a spring action when deploying. The steel head is 3/16 inch thick and 2 7/8 inches high. A 200-pound-rated steel ring is provided as an attachment point for keys. MSRP: $22 www.CVRopeandGear.com Survival Resources Emergency Information Wristband: Having immediate access to copies of your insurance policies, identification, medical information and more could prove vitally important in the wake of a major disaster. The Emergency Information Wristband conceals a 4GB flash drive inside, keeping all your information quite literally at your fingertips. Load it with copies of all your important papers, as well as digital copies of treasured family photos. In addition, if you have pets, keep a current photo of yourself with them stored on the wristband. That photo will go a long way toward proving ownership, should that become necessary. You will need to download and install a password protection program to keep your information private. MSRP: $14.95 www.SurvivalResources.com

› Right: This Winkler Tactical Pick works great for chipping ice or boring holes in whatever you feel needs an extra hole. Just don’t try to get it on an airplane. (Photo: Jim Cobb)

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$

L A I C E SP

99

69

Each


THE INVISIBLE WINTER THREAT PREVENT SNOW BLINDNESS WITH HOMEMADE EYE PROTECTION. BY DANA BENNER

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M

ost articles that deal with winter survival seem to cover everything except the eyes, but snow blindness is a real and debilitating threat you need to be prepared for. Let’s face it: Without your eyes, you are going to be in a world of hurt in a survival situation. If you can’t see—or see well— your ability to hunt, gather water, make shelter and fire, and defend yourself will be severely limited, if not impossible. If you are in this type of situation, you are already at a disadvantage. Damage to your eyes will make it worse.

SNOW BLINDNESS IS LIKE GETTING A SUNBURN ON YOUR EYE—MORE SPECIFICALLY, TO THE CORNEA. WHAT IS SNOW BLINDNESS?

‹ Almost any workable material can be used to make a quick pair of snow goggles. Here, a piece of cardboard is being cut to size.

Snow blindness is like getting a sunburn on your eye—more specifically, to the cornea. It is a painful condition caused by the eye getting too much exposure to UV radiation, usually from reflected light. While snow blindness is generally associated with light reflecting off ice and snow (hence, the name), the same injury can occur with sunlight being reflected off sand and water.

THE EFFECTS OF SNOW BLINDNESS? Any injury to the eye is a serious one. The problem with snow blindness is that the symptoms might not show up for several hours, long after the damage has been done. Those symptoms can range from minor to major, depending on the amount of exposure. Snow blindness symptoms can range from bloodshot, teary eyes to painful, gritty-feeling eyes that swell shut. The worst-case scenario? Permanent vision loss. There really isn’t much you can do to treat the effects of snow blindness. The best thing is to get into a dark place and rest. That could mean getting into a tent, cave or other type of shelter with little to no light. Try to block as much light as you can. Sometimes, just patching the eyes

‹ Once size is determined, you will need to locate where the eye slits and nose cutout will be. This can only be done by putting it up to your face.

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‹ Cut the eye slits and nose notch. This is cardboard, but the process is still the same on any material.

‹ Cut out the notch where the strap will connect to the goggles.

‹ The author is using a shoelace for a strap, but you can use anything similar you have on hand.

‹ The author’s homemade goggles are ready for use in the field.

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with some gauze will suffice. Warm, used tea bags can be used to help soothe the pain and reduce the swelling. Warm-water compresses will also work. However, no matter what you do, you will be out of commission for at least a couple days. You should seek professional medical care as soon as you realize you have a vision problem.

IF YOU CAN’T SEE— OR SEE WELL— YOUR ABILITY TO HUNT, GATHER WATER, MAKE SHELTER AND FIRE, AND DEFEND YOURSELF WILL BE SEVERELY LIMITED, IF NOT IMPOSSIBLE. AVOID THE PROBLEM It is simpler and more effective to do whatever you can to avoid the problem than it is to treat it. There are plenty of really good snow goggles available, and they can be found in every outdoor store and ski shop. Even a quality pair of sunglasses will work, as long as the lenses wrap around the curvature of your face—you can get eye damage from reflected light that enters the eye from the sides, below or above sunglasses with flat lenses. What should you do if you don’t have a good pair of sunglasses or goggles? If you are a prepper, you know the answer: Make your own. This has been done for thousands of years by the native peoples of the Arctic, and it can still be done today. These people made goggles out of what was available. Sometimes, it was wood, or it could be ivory, bone, antler or baleen. The idea was to make a piece that would fit close to the face. To see, small slits would be made where the mask covered the eyes. These slits would allow just enough light in to see but would block most of the reflected light, thus limiting the amount of eye damage. Leather straps kept the goggles attached to the face. Today, we have a wide variety of materials that can be used to make an emergency pair of goggles (see the sidebar on the facing page). No matter what material you use, the goal is still the same: Keep the light from damaging your eyes.


MODERN MATERIALS Unlike the Arctic peoples of old, today, we have different materials available that can be used to make emergency goggles. Here is a short list of potential options you can use (and I am sure you can come up with more): • Duct tape—Every pack should have a roll of duct tape in it. • Tree bark—Elm and birch seem to work the best, and they are the easiest to work with. • Leather—Any piece of leather will work (for instance, the uppers on an old pair of boots). • Cardboard—Even a stiff piece of cardboard will do. In fact, it is probably the easiest to work with. ‹ This Inuit man’s wood goggles are small and less bulky on his face.

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IT IS SIMPLER AND MORE EFFECTIVE TO DO WHATEVER YOU CAN TO AVOID THE PROBLEM THAN IT IS TO TREAT IT. MAKE YOUR OWN SNOW GOGGLES If you are in a situation for which you need to make a pair of goggles to protect your eyes, keep in mind that you are not trying to make a fashion statement. Your goal is very simple: Protect your eyes. Once you have gathered your material, the actual process is fairly simple. With your knife, shape the material to fit your face the best you can. This can be in the style of a mask, or you can make parts that just cover both or individual eyes, depending on the materials you have at hand. Locate where your eyes will be and cut a horizontal slit for each eye that is wide enough to see out of but still blocks most of the light. Once you have the fit you want and the slits line up with your eyes, you will need some way to keep the goggles, or parts, on your face. Make a strap using extra shoe laces, strips of leather, paracord or even string. If you have that roll of duct tape you should always have with you, you can make straps out of that. Now that you are ready to complete your mission, keep in mind that this is just an emergency fix. The first chance you get, make sure to secure yourself a pair of sunglasses or goggles; keep them in your pack if they’re not on your face. Eyesight is, by no means, a requirement for a fully functional life in modern peaceful environments. However, good vision is essential for survival on your own in foreign and hostile environments, where even the sighted can’t see all the threats around them. Without good vision, you will have a hard time navigating, securing food and water, and staying safe from the host of dangers a survival situation is likely to include. Don’t succumb to the tendency we have to not value something until we no longer have it. Take the time now to make sure you have the means available to protect your eyes, and train yourself to take emergency action if you need to. Don’t wait until it is too late. ASG

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‹ The author cuts a piece of birch bark for making a set of snow goggles.

‹ The author’s new birch bark goggles are finished and ready for use.

AMERICAN SURVIVAL GUIDE [DECEMBER 2017]


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BETTER THAN MONEY IN THE BANK? STOCKPILING SURPLUS SOVIET BLOC AMMUNITION BY PETER SUCIU

‹ Above: A Soviet ammo can and a belt of vintage 7.62x54mmR ammunition (Photo: Peter Suciu)

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O

ne of the lasting legacies of the Cold War is the vast abundance of surplus ammo—notably in the rifle caliber 7.62x54mmR and the intermediate “assault rifle” caliber 7.62x39mm, as well as, to a lesser extent, the pistol caliber 7.62x25mm. This last cartridge was also utilized in various Soviet Bloc submachine guns. Literally millions of rounds of those calibers were produced in the decades following World War II in preparation for a third world war that, fortunately, never came. The Soviet Union and its client states, including East Germany, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Czechoslovakia, as well as non-Warsaw nations such as China and Yugoslavia, produced tens of millions of rounds for military use. Much of this ammo came onto the market after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Throughout the 1990s to around 2012, this surplus ammunition was offered by numerous online dealers at very reasonable prices. However, during the Obama administration, gun prices soared, and ammunition became increasingly scarce—so much so that even .22LR was in hot demand. Then, in 2014, the Treasury Department used authority delegated to it by the president, under Executive Order 13661, to sanction gun-maker Kalashnikov Concerns (formerly Izhmash) and also ban the importation of the AK-47, as well as the surplus ammo. Even with these facts in mind, the truth is that millions of rounds of Soviet Bloc surplus ammo are still available; and now, with President Trump residing in the White House, the price of firearms and ammunition is falling to reasonable levels once again. As a result, now might be the time to stockpile the surplus ammunition. However, a few things need to be considered.


› Soviet Bloc ammunition was typically packed in wooden crates with two “spam cans” per crate. This makes storage and transport of the ammunition fairly easy. (Photo: Peter Suciu)

THE CHALLENGE OF BUYING SOVIET BLOC MILITARY SURPLUS AMMO BEGINS WITH UNDERSTANDING WHAT YOU ARE GETTING. CORROSIVE VS. NON-CORROSIVE The Soviet Union and its client states will never be remembered for producing quality products, even if the AK-47 and its variations were among the best products to come out of the Communist Bloc. The truth is that while the firearm, itself, is a very reliable weapon that can endure harsh conditions and continue to operate with minimal maintenance, the ammunition that has come out of the East isn’t exactly what could be considered the most reliable or clean. The various 7.62-calibers often have one thing in common: Namely, these comprise corrosive ammunition that utilize a primer with chemicals that, when ignited, leave a residue of corrosive salts. Most often, these primers contain potassium chlorate

› Right: A Polish ammo tin of 7.62x25mm pistol cartridges. These tins are soldered closed and require tools to open. Inside are boxes of 25 rounds. (Photo: Peter Suciu)

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â&#x20AC;¹ Left: A typical Soviet Bloc storage tin. One thing to have handy is the Soviet Bloc can opener! As noted by the bottom line on the tin, this case holds 440 rounds of ammunition. (Photo: Peter Suciu)

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or sodium petrochlorate. When these are burned, they decompose into potassium chloride or sodium chloride. This can leave residue in the barrel and create “fouling,” which, over time, can lead to jamming and poor shooting performance. It is important for those reasons to properly clean a firearm when using this dirty ammo (actually, any firearm should be regularly cleaned, but the issue is magnified when corrosive ammunition is used). However, it is also important to note that corrosive ammunition was once all there was—and the United States, Great Britain and other nations all used it. This is because corrosive primers had a good reputation for reliability and long-term storage. The United States military only began to phase out corrosive primer ammunition in the 1950s, while many nations continued to rely on it for another couple of decades.

THE DOWNSIDE OF IMPROPER STORAGE

PROS AND CONS OF MILITARY SURPLUS AMMO The other half of the equation is whether surplus military ammunition can be trusted in the long haul.

‹ Left: Soviet Bloc 7.62x54mmR and 7.62x39mm cartridges. Millions of these rounds have been produced. (Photo: Peter Suciu)

Ammunition that isn’t stored properly isn’t reliable and can have numerous issues. Some of these include the fact that primers can lose sensitivity, which means hang fire—a dangerous circumstance, even on a shooting range. Cartridges can also weaken or rupture when fired and cause damage to a firearm—and injury or death to the shooter. Any cache of ammo should be rotated when possible, just like long-term food storage. While this can be hard with old surplus ammo, the key should be to use up your oldest inventory before using ammo with later production dates. Even when the ammo is in packing tins, ammo boxes or other containers, it should be inspected regularly for signs of corrosion. In addition, when possible, it should be kept out of damp or humid locations. If stored in a basement, cellar or bunker, silica packets can be used to reduce humidity within the packaging. At the same time, avoid excess heat, because it can damage the primers. This means that just as you shouldn’t leave a baby in a hot car in the summer, you should avoid leaving caches of ammo in the car during the next heatwave. Likewise, ammunition shouldn’t be buried in the ground or even stored in the house, except in tightly sealed containers. This can both prevent corrosion of the bullets due to the elements and help protect it during a fire or flood. The bottom line: Don’t assume the ammo is ready to shoot. Make sure it is ready at all times.

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DECODING THE MARKINGS ON SOVIET BLOC AMMO CRATES It might not be ancient Greek, but the markings on Soviet ammunition crates and tins can be just as confusing. Military surplus ammunition from the Warsaw Pact was typically shipped in containers that used Soviet military nomenclature from the Cold War. First, the language and accompanying alphabet is Cyrillic, so that will explain some of the more-confusing characters. Even so, understanding exactly what is marked on the cases doesn’t require even a working knowledge of Russian. The second thing to know is that almost all wooden cases hold two metal cases, and this is marked on the outside of the wooden crate. Common markings include: ГЖ = bimetallic case; steel clad with gilding metal ГЛ = brass case ГС = steel case Based on the ammo that has been largely encountered for sale, it seems that the vast majority is of the first variety—bimetallic (gilding metal and clad steel).

Soviet Factory Codes 3 17 38 60 188 270

Ulyanovsk (Уляновск) Barnaul (Барнаул) Yuryuzan (Юрюзань) Frunze (now Bishkek) (Фрунзе) Novosibirsk (Новосибирск) Voroshilovgrad (now Luhansk) (Ворошиловград) Lugansk (Луганськ) Tula (Тула) Klimovsk (Климоск) Tula (Тула)

304 539 711 T

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Soviet Bullet Codes Armor-piercing (also Б-30, Б-32) Armor-piercing, incendiary БЗТ Armor-piercing, incendiary tracer (also БЗТ-44) БП Armor-piercing БС Armor-piercing with special core of tungsten carbide instead of carbon steel (also БС-40, БС-41) БСТ Armor-piercing with tungsten carbide core with added tracer БТ Armor-piercing tracer Д Heavy (long range) with lead core instead of carbon steel З Incendiary ЗП Incendiary Л Lightweight bullet ЛПС Light ball bullet with mild steel core МДЗ High-explosive incendiary П Spotting/ranging (also П-41) ПЗ Incendiary spotting/ranging ПП Enhanced penetration ПС Spotting/ranging with mild steel core ПТ Spotting/ranging tracer СНБ Armor-piercing sniper Т Tracer (also Т-30, Т-45, Т-46) 57-У-322 Cartridge with higher powder charge Б

БЗ

THE VARIOUS 7.62CALIBERS OFTEN HAVE ONE THING IN COMMON … THESE COMPRISE CORROSIVE AMMUNITION THAT UTILIZE A PRIMER CONTAINING CHEMICALS THAT, WHEN IGNITED, LEAVE A RESIDUE OF CORROSIVE SALTS.

57-У-323 57-У-423 High-pressure cartridge 57-Х-322 Blank cartridge 57-Х-323 57-Х-340 57-НЕ-УЧ Training cartridge

Sniper bullet

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AMERICAN SURVIVAL GUIDE [DECEMBER 2017]

‹ Above: Some of the Soviet Bloc wooden storage crates have hinges and even simple latches, but it should be noted that these crates are meant to transport tins and don’t provide adequate protection for loose ammo. Despite what movies and TV shows suggest, ammo wasn’t merely dumped in these wooden boxes. (Photo: Peter Suciu)

Generally, it can, and for a very good reason: The military needs ammunition that is reliable. A soldier can’t go back to the fancy (or not-so-fancy) gun shop and complain that the rounds were unreliable. Even nations that seem to have poor military track records (you know which ones we’re talking about) still produced, or at least purchased, quality ammunition. Military ammunition requires reliability first and foremost, and that, again, brings back the reason corrosive primers weren’t considered such a bad thing. Even Soviet ammunition from World War II can be considered fairly reliable— provided it was properly stored and maintained.


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HISTORY OF THE AK-47 AND ITS UNIQUECALIBER CARTRIDGE Today, the AK-47 is arguably the most recognizable small arm in the world. In excess of 75 million AK-47s were produced, and weapons in the Kalashnikov family that are based on the AK-47 exceed 100 million worldwide. Few weapons in the history of mankind have had such a lasting impact. According to a World Bank Policy research paper published in 2010, of the estimated 500 million firearms in the world, over one-fifth were based on the weapon designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov. The firearm became an icon of the Soviet Union, as well as insurgents around the world. Its low production cost, coupled with its ease of manufacture, made it easy for vast numbers of the AK-47 to be practically given away to revolutionary movements during the Cold War. It became such a symbol of worldwide revolution that it was on the coat of arms of East Timor and on the flag of Mozambique. Since the end of the Cold War, the AK-47 brand—as well as Mikhail Kalashnikov’s name—was used on a variety of products, most notably vodka (including an AK-47-branded version that had the bottle shaped like the familiar assault rifle!). Much of the success of the AK-47 is owed to its cartridge, the 7.62x39mm round. It is smaller than the 7.62x54mmR rimmed rifle cartridge developed by the Russian empire that was introduced as a service cartridge in 1891. Originally designed for the bolt-action Mosin–Nagant rifle, it was used during the late tsarist era and throughout the Soviet period to the present day. While effective for rifles and machine guns, the 7.62x54mmR was considered too large for a squad-type assault weapon. Germany had already developed a so-called “intermediate” cartridge for its StG44 (or Sturmgewehr 44), the world’s first true assault rifle. Soviet arms designers saw the potential in developing a similar cartridge and weapon; the result was the 7.62x39mm rimless cartridge. The cartridge remained the Soviet standard until the 1970s. It was largely replaced in Russian service by the 5.45x39mm cartridge, which is used by the current-issue AK-74M service rifle and its variants. Both the 7.62x54mmR and 7.62x39mm cartridges were produced during the Cold War in great abundance for the war that never came.

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Some gun experts might say not to buy ammunition that has a box date of more than 10 years old. Nevertheless, in practice, Communist Bloc ammo from the 1970s and 1980s performs just as well as the currently made Wolf ammo that is offered for quite a bit more in the same calibers. The challenge of buying Soviet Bloc military surplus ammo begins with

understanding what you are getting. Many people think that if they are buying 7.62x39mm for their SKS or AK-47, they are buying ammo produced in the Soviet Union … a nation that ceased to exist on December 26, 1991. The truth is that just as both of those firearms were produced in a variety of nations, so, too, was the ammunition. Much of the ammunition that has come on the


‹ Above: A private collection of Soviet Bloc rifles, including (from top to bottom): Mosin Model 1891; Mosin Nagant Model 1891/1930; Mosin Nagant Model 1891/1938 Carbine; Mosin Nagant Model 1891/1944 Carbine; and an SVT-40. All of these rifles use the 7.62x54mmR cartridge. (Photo: Peter Suciu) ‹ Opposite, top: Once taken out of original tins, ammo should be stored in other airtight and waterproof tins such as these U.S. military surplus tins. (Photo: Peter Suciu) ‹ Left: One advantage of Soviet surplus ammo is that accessories (ammo pouches) are easy to find. This is a magazine pouch that holds PPS-43 magazines (left) but can also be fitted with AK-47 magazines. The SKS pouches are Chinese surplus and have been used around the world to hold stripper clips. (Photo: Peter Suciu)

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COMMUNIST BLOC CARTRIDGES ENDURE THE TEST OF TIME One interesting fact about the 7.62x54mmR cartridge is that it has been in service for more than 125 years. It was developed for the Mosin-Nagant bolt-action rifle. However, just as the American military utilized the .30-caliber round in numerous subsequent firearms—from the 1903 Springfield rifle to the Browning .30-caliber machine gun to the M1 Garand—the Soviet designers continued to utilize its large-caliber round well into the Cold War. The 7.62x54mmR round is one that was used in World War I with the SVT-40 semiautomatic rifle, DP-28 light machine gun and SG-43 medium machine gun during World War II. It was then used with the SVD “Dragunov” sniper rifle and the similar Romanian PSL “scoped semiautomatic rifle” during the Cold War. This caliber remains in use with the Russian military’s Zastava M91 marksman rifle and its SV-98 bolt-action sniper rifle, the latter of which was introduced in 2003. The 7.62x39mm round has also been widely adopted—in part, as American companies such as Remington Arms, SIG Sauer and Savage Arms have released sporting rifles in that caliber. As a result, there are many commercial options for buying this low-cost ammo that is “fresher” than the surplus stuff; but, as has been noted, the Communist Bloc ammunition has remained dependable for decades. › Opposite: Surplus ammo found in this condition is a great find.

‹ Left: Badly stored ammo can corrode and be unusable. (Photo: Peter Suciu)

… CORROSIVE AMMUNITION WAS ONCE ALL THERE WAS—AND THE UNITED STATES, GREAT BRITAIN AND OTHER NATIONS ALL USED IT. THIS IS BECAUSE CORROSIVE PRIMERS HAD A GOOD REPUTATION FOR RELIABILITY AND LONG-TERM STORAGE. 128

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‹ Left: When planning for a serious survival situation, can one have too much ammunition?


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market in recent years has come from Poland, Romania and Bulgaria; and it is still generally considered superior to the ammunition from Pakistan and China.

STORAGE The key is how the ammunition was stored. A lot of Soviet Bloc ammo was packed in metal tins, which were, in turn, placed in wooden crates. This provided insulation from the elements. But because the ammunition is still decades old, it is simply impossible to verify if the crates were left in extreme temperatures. While not a true vacuum, the benefit of the metal storage tins is that it can help protect ammo from water and rust and even allow it to be stored in damp or humid conditions. Once any ammo is removed from the storage tins, it should be placed in an ammo can or similar storage container. This could also help ensure it will be good for years to come. If and when economies collapse, the new currency might not be dollars, pounds or Euros; it might be in the size of the cartridge. So, ensuring that proper stockpiles are built up and maintained, surplus ammo can be better than money in the bank. ASG

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Adaptive Tactical ................................................................................................................................................. 45 Aero Precision.........................................................................................................................................................37 Atabase ...................................................................................................................................................................57 Battlbox LLC........................................................................................................................................................... 19 Bradford USA .........................................................................................................................................................33 Bravo Company ................................................................................................................................................... 2-3 Cas Iberia.................................................................................................................................................................57 Chiappa Firearms ..................................................................................................................................................53 Condor Outdoor ................................................................................................................................................... 132 Doom and Bloom, LLC..........................................................................................................................................97 Emergent BioSolutions ....................................................................................................................................... 95 Holosun ...................................................................................................................................................................87 Kershaw Knives.......................................................................................................................................................71 LT Wright Handcrafted Knife Company ..........................................................................................................127 Major Surplus & Survival........................................................................................................................................ 7 Military 1st...............................................................................................................................................................27 Mission Critical Designs........................................................................................................................................47 O.F. Mossberg Firearms ......................................................................................................................................105 On the Edge Brands ............................................................................................................................................. 113 Ravin Crossbows...................................................................................................................................................119 Schrade ...................................................................................................................................................................43 Sellmark Corp........................................................................................................................................................ 65 Spy Escape............................................................................................................................................................. 55 Titan Reloading .....................................................................................................................................................35 TOPS Knives .......................................................................................................................................................... 131 Tormach LLC ...........................................................................................................................................................35 TPS Arms ..............................................................................................................................................................129 Waterwise Inc........................................................................................................................................................ 69 World Gone Silent .................................................................................................................................................57 The Advertiser Index is provided as a service to American Survival Guide readers. American Survival Guide is not responsible for omissions or typographical errors on names or page numbers.

[ASGMAG.COM] AMERICAN SURVIVAL GUIDE

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THE BEST RELIANCE IS SELF-RELIANCE

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ever before in our lifetimes has the need to prepare for a catastrophe and to be able to rely on yourself in an emergency been greater than it is today. America is under continuous threats from external enemies, such as terrorists and rogue states, as well as internal threats, such as rioters, hate groups, homegrown terrorists and other provocateurs. American Survival Guide is dedicated to bringing you actionable information that can save your life in a real-world situation during which there are no local, state or federal entities that will be readily available to help you. Putting food on the table, water in your body and a roof over your head might become your responsibility—with no support from anyone else. Keeping your family safe and your property secure will fall into your hands, as well. You need to know how to communicate with family and friends and to monitor the authorities, as well as how to take care of all your medical needs when there are no medical professionals available to come to your rescue. Preparing for an emergency is not something you want, or will be able, to do after an emergency situation occurs. The unfortunate truth is that it is impossible to predict exactly when bad things are going to happen. That’s OK—as long as you take preventive measures beforehand by stocking up on food, water and supplies, as well as getting the training and experience you will need if you are faced with a SHTF situation. Life is full of distractions, and it is easy to put off what might not seem to be an immediate need. But I can assure you that time invested in learning survival and prepping skills will be time well spent when the day comes to put

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AMERICAN SURVIVAL SURVIVAL GUIDE GUIDE [DECEMBER [AUGUST AMERICAN 2017]

BY BRIAN MORRIS

that knowledge to the test. Then, there will be no alternative but to protect yourself, your loved ones and your property. Face the reality now: Within hours of the word getting out that something major is about to happen, the supermarket shelves will be empty. If that word came out today, how long could you live off the food stored in your pantry? Do you have a generator—and the ability to keep it running long enough—to keep your frozen food from spoiling? You can be sure that the gas pumps will dry up just as fast as the food and other essential supplies will fly off the shelves. And what about weapons and ammunition? In the event of economic collapse, paper money won’t be worth anything more than tinder for your fire. Only physical things will hold real value. Weapons and ammunition are not only excellent tools for keeping yourself secure and for putting food in your belly, they can also be great items to use for bartering. Other people in the same situation as you might have things you’ll need, and having goods to barter with will put you at a great advantage. You might not be able to plan for every event that will challenge you in your life, but you can certainly prepare for most of them. Doing so now will take the majority of the pressure off so you will be able to deal with those unexpected things that pop up when you least expect them. As “Murphy’s Law” says, “Whatever bad things can happen will happen—at the most inopportune time.” Don’t get caught unprepared; continue to read American Survival Guide and also develop your survival plans and skills so you can rely on yourself to survive any situation! ASG


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